April 28, 2022

SCI Chester

SCI Chester is a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania men’s prison within the state’s Department of Corrections. The facility was constructed in 1998 for nearly $74 million with an annual operating budget of $36 million as a 1,175-bed medium-security prison for inmates with a documented substance abuse history. SCI Chester is the 24th state correctional institution to open in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is unique in its architectural structure and programmatic design. The housing units design - pods - was considered an ambitious move for correctional facilities during the 1980’s.

Over the last several years, SCI Chester has been experiencing increasingly urgent issues arising from the flooding of its utility lines. When several leaks went unaddressed, they caused a utility line failure that required a fast and effective power solution - a solution Powerhouse was able to provide.

The Problem

SCI Chester’s Central Utility Building (CUB) is located outside of the prison’s secure area, across Morton Avenue - a street also utilized by SEPTA, Harrah’s Casino, Kimberly Clark as well as several other private entities. This CUB houses the prison’s main steam boilers, emergency generators, chillers, warehouse, storeroom and motor pool, among other appliances. Due to its location, the prison’s utility lines running from the CUB - including natural gas, steam, condensate, chilled water supply, and return - are all buried under the busy thoroughfare that is Morton Avenue, making maintenance projects a difficult undertaking.

In 2013, following a drastic increase in water levels surrounding the facility, SCI Chester began to notice steam leaking from the piping that runs from the CUB to the prison. The Powerhouse was called in to investigate this steam leak in preparation for a possible rental boiler and determined that the steam was ground water incursion within the jacket and insulation of the steam pipe. This should have been a red flag to the Department of Corrections, but due to financial and logistical limitations, nothing was done to immediately address the issue.

On January 31st, 2017 Powerhouse was again called to investigate a steam leaking issue, but instead of the pipe jacket leaking they now observed steam emitting from the center island garden of Morton Ave. It again was determined to be ground water incursion, except this time it was the result of a major breach of the jacket underground. Plans were immediately made to quickly prepare a quote for the rental and installation of a 500hp Portable Boiler Rental (PBR).

The Solution

When SCI Chester attempted to perform preliminary start up on their chilled water system on April 19th, 2017, it became immediately evident that the PVC carrier piping had been compromised by the excessive heat from the adjacent leaking steam pipe, adding additional time sensitivity to the project.

Powerhouse was immediately contacted and under the PA DGS Rental Power, Heating, Cooling & Ventilation Contract was able to provide a rental 350 Ton air-cooled chiller, 1000kw generator and a 5,000 gallon oil tank all within a few days of the initial contact & request. Powerhouse, alongside our vendor Aggreko, was able to pull the PA Department of Corrections out of a jam.

The Results

In addition to the much needed air conditioning Powerhouse has been able to provide for over two months, an order was also received to provide a rental boiler within the secure area. This rental boiler was contracted to provide reliable backup in case of a catastrophic failure of the steam line, as well as to provide reliable steam supply during a construction project expected to last well into 2018.

Due to their ability to act quickly to emergency situations, Powerhouse will be providing SCI Chester with reliable steam and backup for the foreseeable future.

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