GRP Joint Fail

GRP Joint Fail

EPR evaluated a very large facility that had one of the world’s largest desalination operations at around 250,000,000 gallons per day.  An extraordinary facility in terms of scale and elegance of design.  But separately, there were quality concerns.  The photos are about 12 months after COD, so the plant was effectively new.  For context, the seawater and freshwater ‘loops’ in this plant were miles long and complex configuration of GRP (glass reinforced plastic) commonly known as fiberglass.

GRP is an excellent product but requires attention to detail when installed.  Joints need to be ‘layed up’ with a carefully proportioned two-part resin over a clean and prepared substrate.

In this plant, chunks of GRP started to appear in the process screens.  On further evaluation inside drained circuits and elsewhere via borescope inspection evidence of GRP delamination and shedding at the joints was discovered.  If there were a few instances of the problem, it would have been noted and dismissed, but this condition appeared in varying degrees in all the units and interconnecting piping.

The plant was in operation, so there was little opportunity to deal with the defects.  However, this is likely O&M will experience outages and lost revenue in the future and become experienced at these repairs.

This problem should have been identified early in construction, once the first few joints were prepared.  The EPC Contract was very clear about the technical and QA/QC program requirements, but the contractor failed to follow through and the owners team failed in its oversight role.

Contractor Savings


Repair Costs

Unknown.  Consider the primary revenue for this plant is water production and a unit outage costs several $X0,000/day.  This could get expensive.

Supporting Images: 

View of diameter and scale of GRP systems.

Strainer GRP delamination debris.

Internal picture of delamination at joints.

Internal borescope inspection of GRP delaminations collecting in piping.

Another borescope picture.