Corrosion of steel structures in soils has been a topic of industrial research for many decades. The research has shown that the corrosivity of a soil is highly variable and a function of numerous interconnected parameters including soil resistivity, moisture content and pH. Despite the complexity of the soil environment, methods to evaluate soil corrosivity, guidelines for corrosion control during the design phase and lifetime of a structure have been developed. By applying this understanding, an opportunity exists to optimize the corrosion protection and capital expenses for new projects associated with corrosion protection of buried structural steel components. For instance, for new projects, e.g., identifying regions of low corrosivity where coatings are not required could lead to cost savings without compromising the integrity of the structure. However, within the industry, there is no universally accepted method to guide such decisions.

This paper is intended to address this issue by presenting a literature review and a case study on the topic. The literature review identifies the factors that influence the corrosion of buried steel structures, the range of corrosion rates observed on buried steel structures and quantitative and qualitative methods for assessing soil corrosivity. In the desktop case study, industry standards identified during the literature review (AASHTO R27-01, DIN50929-3:2018, ANSI/AWWA C105/A21.5 and Eurocode 3-5) are applied to applied to evaluate the soil corrosivity at three meter station sites in Alberta. The results are compared and recommendations for implementation are discussed. DIN 50929-3 stands out among the standards as it provides conservative estimates based on the most comprehensive data set and unlike the other standards, it assesses soil corrosivity both qualitatively and quantitatively.

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