Cost of corrosion in the USA

Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials

ISSN: 0003-5599

Article publication date: 1 June 2000



(2000), "Cost of corrosion in the USA", Anti-Corrosion Methods and Materials, Vol. 47 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

Cost of corrosion in the USA

KeywordsCorrosion, Costs, USA, Economics

According to recent estimates by the Battelle Institute, corrosion of metals costs the USA almost $300 billion per year. This loss to the US economy is more than the entire cost of floods and fires in the USA. In fact, it has been estimated that 40 percent of US steel production goes to replace corroded parts and products; its oil industries are spending over $2 million a day due to corrosion of underground structures.

The Battelle Institute states that an estimated $100 billion of this nation's $300 billion annual corrosion bill could be saved with the application of existing knowledge and technology.

Although corrosion is not a problem with a 100 percent effective cure, the use of current technology can diminish its damaging effects. Corrosion control measures could save the country resources while in the process recovering billions of dollars presently being lost.

The last comprehensive study was performed in 1977-1978 which found that corrosion cost the USA $82 billion, a quarter of which was preventable by using the technology of the time. After 20 years, NACE International has now called upon the US Congress to fund a new cost of corrosion study to take a systematic and detailed look at the impact of corrosion on the USA.

In 1991, the United States Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) estimated the value of the US infrastructure to be $1.4 trillion, with about $140 billion being spent annually to build, operate, and maintain those facilities.

With all that spending, why is our nation's infrastructure deteriorating and sometimes literally crumbling, asks NACE? One major reason they give is inattention to corrosion control as part of an overall program of maintenance for infrastructure facilities.

Corrosion most often affects metal structures such as bridges, steel reinforced concrete, storage tanks, and pipelines. Corrosion problems often are not obvious, but can lead to extensive structural failure and loss of capital investment. As the average age of facilities and structures continues to rise, corrosion problems will inevitably worsen. Related expenses, however, can be minimised by using proven technologies in the design, construction, installation, maintenance and repair of structures.

The increasing age of infrastructure facilities and hazards such as acid rain make the need to implement comprehensive corrosion control programs more important every day. Whether considering public safety, environmental protection, or limited budgets, NACE believes that the USA can no longer afford to allow its infrastructure to deteriorate.