25 January 2008

Brazil publishes FRP inspection, performance standard

SÃO PAULO, Brazil, Jan. 23, 2008 -- Two and a half years after the beginning of meetings among raw material suppliers, manufacturers, users and representatives of the Brazilian Technical Standards Association (ABNT), fiberglass reinforced polyester (FRP) pipes have been standardized. Published in November 2007, NBR 15536 sets forth inspection and performance parameters of FRP pipes and connections used in basic sanitation works, such as a water channeling system and sewage emissary, among other applications. The text, based on international regulations such as AWWA C-950 and ISO 10467 and 10639, also specifies methods for performing pipe tests.

"It refers to a great achievement, specially for the consumer market, which will rely on piping performance," states Macel Dal Posso, Amitech's quality manager, the largest Brazilian FRP pipes manufacturer. The company operates a FRP pipes manufactory in Ipeúna, 200 km from São Paulo, which has the capacity to produce 120 km/year of pipes 400 mm to 1,200 mm in diameter. In 2008, production will increase to 300 km/year, with diameters between 300 mm and 3,000 mm.

"We have taken part, in an efficient way, in the standard elaboration project, providing the committee with information supplied by our subsidiaries abroad," he states. Amitech is under the control of two international groups: the Colombian Group Inversiones Mundial and the Saudi Arabian Group Amiantit.

In addition to the benefits offered to basic sanitation agencies, the regulations will be advantageous to the FRP pipes manufacturers themselves. "There will be a leveling of quality and everyone must comply with the same requirements," states Dal Posso. Again, pipeline users will be the main beneficiaries. "They have wished for the standard publication for a long time," states Amitech's quality manager. The non-compliance with the standard implicates in penalties described in the Code of the Customer Rights.

ABNT's Support
Together with seven FRP pipes manufacturers, several representatives of water and sewerage agencies, as Sabesp, Copasa and Sanepar, have taken part in the standard text process. Raimunda Maria Pires, Sanepar's executive, believes that the support given by ABNT is the main advantage of such standardization. "They came to be one more available alternative for the agencies after the standard publication," she states.

In certain situations, such standardization helps to reduce the typical high-volume water loss in Brazil, believes Raimunda. "As we demand strict tests, we are ensuring a better-quality product in both manufacturing and operating aspects, that is, during the installation and maintenance."

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Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.