Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/25/1995 09:10 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 HB 224 - STATE PLUMBING CODE                                                
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE VIC KOHRING, sponsor of HB 224, stated he and his              
 aide had additional information addressing the safety issue of                
 single wall versus double wall heat exchangers, which was a big               
 part of the discussion when HB 224 was last heard in House State              
 Affairs.  He also had information to convey regarding costs.  He              
 added his position is in support of the original version of HB 224,           
 the intent of which is to authorize the Department of Labor to                
 implement the State Uniform Plumbing Code.  Although the single               
 wall versus double wall issue was not the intent of the bill, it              
 did become an issue, and he stated his aide was prepared to answer            
 any questions regarding that issue.                                           
                                                                               
 Number 056                                                                    
                                                                               
 MIKE TIBBLES, Legislative Assistant to Representative Vic Kohring,            
 said he had made a lot of phone calls around the state to gather              
 information on heat exchangers.  Anchorage Plumbing and Heating               
 quoted $640 for their single wall unit and $626 for their double              
 wall unit.                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES asked if those prices included installation.                      
                                                                               
 MR. TIBBLES replied they did not.  He continued, R.S.A. Engineering           
 quoted $734 for a 40-gallon single wall unit; the same unit with a            
 double wall coil listed at $728.  Regarding the safety issue, he              
 mentioned the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation, stating they have           
 been working hard to get clean water in the bush and they feel the            
 single wall units would jeopardize their water source and take them           
 a step backwards.  He also noted several instances of single wall             
 units failing in bush communities, and one in which ethylene glycol           
 got into the water supply and made some individuals ill.  The                 
 evidence shows there was contamination from a faulty system.                  
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES asked if that had occurred in an area that had 2,500              
 population.                                                                   
                                                                               
 MR. TIBBLES replied he did not know.                                          
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said she was familiar with the situation, and she                 
 believes it was not in an area with 2,500 population.  She stated             
 this bill exempts villages with less than 2,500 population, so this           
 law would not have fixed the problem.                                         
                                                                               
 MR. TIBBLES said that might be another issue which should be                  
 addressed, but it does show single wall systems can fail and have             
 caused contamination.                                                         
                                                                               
 Number 154                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. TIBBLES cited another example, in Anchorage, where a single               
 wall system had left enough sediment in the system within two years           
 to eat through copper pipes, prior to 1991 when the double wall               
 requirement went into effect.  He mentioned a school in Utah which            
 was forced to close because of contaminated water and said he had             
 12 other examples.  He felt there was enough evidence to warrant a            
 safety concern.                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 167                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES referred to a letter she had received from the                    
 University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) which says of their 100 water            
 heaters, many of which have reached the end of their useful life,             
 95 percent are single wall and are heated by the campus district              
 steam heating system.  They were asking for an exemption from the             
 double wall heat exchanger requirement.  She read some of their               
 technical reasons:                                                            
                                                                               
      1.  At UAF, the domestic water has a high level of hardness.             
      This results in a rapid scale build up in hot water heaters.             
      We currently use a model of single wall heat exchanger that              
      automatically de-scales heat exchanger tubes during normal               
      operation.  We have not located any replacement double wall              
      heat exchanger with the same de-scaling capability.  The                 
      frequent maintenance activities necessary to physically or               
      chemically clean the scale from the double wall heat exchanger           
      may result in a greater likelihood of potable water                      
      contamination with acid or bacteria.                                     
                                                                               
      2.  The double wall heat exchanger has lower heat transfer               
      efficiency.  This will result in higher energy costs at UAF at           
      a time when funding is declining and we are operating under a            
      mandate to reduce energy and utility costs.                              
                                                                               
      3.  The steam in the district heating system at UAF is                   
      nontoxic.  It consists of water and minute quantities of an              
      anti-corrosion additive approved for food processing by FDA.             
      It is distributed at 15 psi pressure and a temperature of 290            
      degrees F.  Condensate returned to the steam plant is                    
      monitored 24 hours a day, 364 days a year.  Any leak in a hot            
      water heat exchanger would result in potable water leaking               
      into the condensate return system - not into the potable water           
      system - and being quickly detected at the steam plant.  Even            
      if steam did leak into the potable water system it would not             
      result in a health hazard.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 222                                                                    
                                                                               
 JOHN BUTLER, Owner of John's Heating Service in Kodiak, testified             
 via teleconference in support of Representative James' proposed               
 changes to HB 224 (Work Draft Z), adding the double wall units are            
 no good.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 234                                                                    
                                                                               
 PAT KNOWLES, Owner of Mountain Mechanical in Anchorage, testified             
 via teleconference in opposition to the use of single wall heat               
 exchangers, with a reminder "that's poison on the other side of               
 those pipes, and any way you look at it, it's not something you               
 want to drink."                                                               
                                                                               
 Number 245                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES presented her solution, saying she had worked with                
 Representatives Kohring and Rokeberg.  She referred to two                    
 amendments which Representative Rokeberg had suggested (W.2 and               
 W.3), pointing out they were intended to solve the problem for                
 Kodiak, Fairbanks, and Valdez to allow them to use the single wall            
 heat exchanger by inserting on page 3, following line 14 of CSHB              
 224(L&C), a new subsection to read: "(c) If a municipality does not           
 have the power to grant a waiver under (b) of this section, the               
 department may grant the waiver for the municipality."  She said if           
 these amendments were accepted, language would have to be added to            
 make a single wall heat exchanger safe, and that language has been            
 added on Work Draft Z:  "Single wall heat exchangers may be used if           
 the (1) heat transfer medium is water, propylene type glycol, or              
 another essential nontoxic fluid having a toxicity rating or class            
 of one, as listed in Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products,              
 Fifth Edition; (2) pressure of the heat transfer medium is limited            
 to a maximum of 30 pounds per square inch by an approved safety               
 relief valve; and (3) heat exchanger is prominently and permanently           
 labeled with instructions concerning (1)-(2) of this subsection."             
 She maintained that ethylene glycol is the problem, not single wall           
 heat exchangers, and that this language takes care of the ethylene            
 glycol problem.  She added she would not put ethylene glycol in any           
 water system.  She called upon the Department of Labor to testify.            
                                                                               
 Number 306                                                                    
                                                                               
 DWIGHT PERKINS, Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Labor,               
 introduced himself.                                                           
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES asked him if the Department of Labor had any objections           
 to the language in Work Draft Z.                                              
                                                                               
 MR. PERKINS replied he had a problem with page 3, lines 2-3 of Work           
 Draft Z because he was not familiar with the Clinical Toxicology of           
 Commercial Products.  He reiterated the department's position that            
 they would like to see the plumbing code adopted by regulation                
 rather than statute and then go out to public hearing in the                  
 process of making possible changes to the code.                               
                                                                               
 Number 375                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES called the meeting back to order after a brief at ease            
 and referred to simplifying Work Draft Z, page 3, line 1, by                  
 eliminating reference to the Clinical Toxicology of Commercial                
 Products.                                                                     
                                                                               
 MR. PERKINS said that would solve the confusion.   Another solution           
 would be to adopt the Department of Environmental Conversation's              
 "A.W.W.A. Cross Control Manual."  He said either solution would               
 meet Chair James' needs.                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 405                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES noted there were people to testify on teleconference,             
 and asked them to wait.  She reiterated HB 224 had been filed for             
 the purpose of the Department of Labor putting the codes in.  The             
 city of Fairbanks has a problem with the issue.  Anchorage has only           
 500 single wall heat exchangers, whereas Fairbanks has more.                  
 Anchorage has natural gas, and Fairbanks does not.  She said she              
 cannot argue against the fact that double wall heat exchangers have           
 a lower risk factor, but she wondered what is the difference                  
 between that risk factor and the language which says a single wall            
 heat exchanger is acceptable if the medium is water or propylene              
 glycol, the pressure is limited to 30 pounds of pressure in the               
 tank, with a relief valve, and that the heat exchanger is                     
 prominently and permanently labeled with instructions as in (1) and           
 (2) of Draft Z.  The problem that the double wall heat exchanger              
 hopes to fix is the use of ethylene glycol in the system.  Her                
 language for a single wall heat exchanger excludes the use of                 
 ethylene glycol in the system, and that would help Fairbanks.  In             
 areas like Fairbanks where energy costs are extremely high, a small           
 change can make a big difference in the heating bill.  Design                 
 professionals and plumbing professionals and the Department of                
 Labor have testified they do not have a problem with that language,           
 so the committee should not either.                                           
                                                                               
 Number 463                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES continued she had not lobbied the committee at all on             
 this issue, because she believes each issue should stand on its own           
 merit, and she asked the committee what they want.  She said there            
 are three options.  One option is to go back to the original bill             
 and leave out the entire issue of single wall versus double wall              
 heat exchangers.  The second option is to take the language in the            
 amendments submitted by Representative Rokeberg.  The third option            
 is to take her committee substitute, Draft Z, which solves the                
 problem for Fairbanks, Kodiak, and Valdez.  She expressed                     
 disappointment that the committee members kept leaving                        
 intermittently because she had really wanted the full committee to            
 make a decision on the merits of each option.  She observed several           
 committee members had left again, and while awaiting their return             
 she invited teleconference testimony.                                         
                                                                               
 Number 486                                                                    
                                                                               
 STEVE SHUTTLEWORTH, Building Official for the City of Fairbanks,              
 testified via teleconference, saying he had been there since 7:30             
 a.m. and would not now have time to say all he had wanted to say.             
 He said he supported Representative James' Work Draft Z, and the              
 city of Fairbanks would not support anything less than that.  He              
 said he had been asked to demonstrate safety; he did so and his               
 testimony was discounted.  He demonstrated cost and efficiency, and           
 it was discounted.  He said after this experience with the public             
 input process, "you can imagine the feeling in this community."               
 Without Representative James' amendments, HB 224 represents too               
 much government, too much regulation, "and for whose benefit?"  He            
 hoped the city of Fairbanks' determination to get this matter                 
 resolved would not be underestimated.                                         
                                                                               
 Number 504                                                                    
                                                                               
 EUGENE RUTLAND, Executive Director for the Mechanical Contractors             
 of Fairbanks, testified via teleconference, in support of the                 
 single wall heat exchanger amendment in Work Draft Z.  His                    
 association opposes the concept of HB 224 which allows the adoption           
 of only the Uniform Plumbing Code by regulation.  The Uniform                 
 Plumbing Code is being changed and no one knows exactly what it               
 will be.                                                                      
                                                                               
 Number 520                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES noted the state of New York allows single wall heat               
 exchangers with the same language; they have about 4 million of               
 them.  The state of New Jersey has assumed the National Building              
 Code, and they allow single wall heat exchangers, with this                   
 language.  This language is what makes single wall heat exchangers            
 safe.  In addition, double wall heat exchangers are less efficient.           
                                                                               
 Number 540                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING said he appreciated Chair James' amendments            
 but noted it still relied upon people putting the right product in            
 the tank.                                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 550                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. TIBBLES noted he had some information regarding efficiency and            
 cost.  He had called the distributor for Amtrol heat exchangers and           
 had received a page from their catalog by FAX that morning.  It               
 states double wall heat exchangers do not affect recovery, on the             
 new systems and new models.                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 570                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said that might be true, but the cities of Fairbanks,             
 Kodiak and Valdez would incur tremendous expense if they had to buy           
 double wall heat exchangers to replace all their single wall heat             
 exchangers.  This is a huge financial problem, and there have been            
 no problems with the single wall exchangers.  She repeated the                
 three options for the committee.                                              
                                                                               
 Number 580                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE CAREN ROBINSON asked which draft was the Department            
 of Labor's draft.                                                             
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES replied Draft W was the Department of Labor's draft.              
 She said her draft was Draft Z.                                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked to hear from the sponsor of the bill            
 which direction he believed the committee should go.                          
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING recommended the Labor and Commerce Committee           
 Substitute, Draft W, which contains additional language on page 3,            
 Section 4, allowing municipalities to be granted a waiver to the              
 plumbing code.  It sets a higher standard by authorizing the                  
 Department of Labor to adopt the current plumbing code but it also            
 allows flexibility for municipalities to be given a waiver to use             
 the single wall heat exchangers.                                              
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES asked Representative Kohring if he approved of the                
 amendments provided by Representative Rokeberg and himself,                   
 amendments W.2 and W.3.                                                       
                                                                               
 MR. TIBBLES said those amendments had been submitted before he had            
 done in-depth research the last two days on the safety issue.                 
 Going back to the Labor and Commerce version would give time for              
 retrofits, so as not to punish the home owners, but would also set            
 a higher standard for future installations.                                   
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES asked if that meant they did not want those amendments            
 they had brought to her.                                                      
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING said they did not, in light of the                     
 additional research accumulated in the last two days.                         
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES said that meant they were back to the Committee                   
 Substitute, Work Draft W.                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 629                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if that meant they did not trust the            
 Department of Labor to look at the issue fairly and possibly grant            
 a waiver.                                                                     
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES responded by pointing out how much trouble they are               
 having in a legislative committee and saying an administrative                
 committee would have even less control.  She said she personally              
 did not have that fear, after lengthy discussions with the                    
 Department of Labor.  But the people in Fairbanks, Kodiak, and                
 Valdez have had different experiences with the Administration than            
 she has, and they do not trust the public comment process because             
 they have participated in it and they have seen regulations come              
 out with no regard to public input.  She can understand their lack            
 of trust.                                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 650                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said people in her community prefer                   
 sticking with the Labor and Commerce version of the bill, adding it           
 offers the opportunity for discussion through the regulation                  
 process.  She observed the bill will receive a lot more debate as             
 it moves through the Senate, and she thought the basic goal of the            
 bill is excellent and it was important just to get it out of this             
 committee.                                                                    
                                                                               
 Number 660                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE GREEN apologized for "bouncing back and forth across           
 the hall" and reiterated that Chair James' version Z clearly                  
 stating what fluid should be used takes care of safety concerns.              
 He added excluding villages of 2,500 people or less makes the                 
 safety solutions in the other versions questionable; if they are              
 able to waive the demand for a double wall heat exchanger, then               
 other municipalities should have that same right.  If the code is             
 adopted, this choice should be allowed.  Otherwise the urban areas            
 are protected and the rural areas are ignored, and this "smacks in            
 the face of safety."  It ought to be the other way around, if                 
 anything.  He would prefer version W, with amendments.  He noted he           
 had to "run across the hall again."                                           
                                                                               
 Number 682                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN said "Madam Chair, we either need to fish           
 or cut bait, because Joe and I are out of here in about 30                    
 seconds."                                                                     
                                                                               
 Number 685                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KOHRING said he recommended accepting the original             
 committee substitute.                                                         
                                                                               
 (Representatives Ogan and Green left the meeting.)                            
                                                                               
 CHAIR JAMES stated, "We can't have a committee meeting with people            
 jumping up and down."                                                         

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