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Revision geosynthetics standards

CEN/TC 189 proceeds to the complete revision of all product standards related to "geosynthetics"

CEN/TC 189 has finally cut the knot with a total revision of all (16) product standards for geosynthetics, geotextile-related products and geomembranes. This decision was made after long and sometimes vehement discussions, caused by changes in the standardisation mandate of the technical committee. These changes from the European Commission were made on the instigation of Finland and make elongation (in the event of rupture) a mandatory parameter, necessary for CE-marking. Finally, and after resistance from the UK and Belgium, this property will be incorporated in the standard, together with a whole series of other necessary modifications and clarification. These have surfaced, after eight years of experience with the standards.

As customary the plenary meeting on Friday 29th May was preceeded by a day of work group meetings. This time the group has convened in the SKZ Institute of the historical town of Wurzburg/Germany. The meeting was attended by some fourty delegates from 14 European countries.

Since several years, the working programme of CEN/TC 189 is revising the previous generation of standards. In many cases, the revisions will only be minimal, more an update than a revision. This is especially the case for test methods. For product standards this may be different, moreover, since certain modifications may have a huge impact.

Changes may be connected with the evaluation of durability, especially since new materials (PVA, glass, aramids, polystyrene...) and new structures (grids, composites...) are being introduced in the market. The present version of the standards did not bother much with other polymers than the traditional PP, PE, PET and PA. Also the use of recycled materials has received too little attention. The revision has been assigned to WG 5, the expert group in this field. It will be their task to present new proposals that will find their way to the product standard for both geotextiles and geomembranes. Another important modification, this time within the standards on geomembranes, it the draft of a test frequency schedule.

Several delegations have expressed their concern about the shift from CEN to ISO and the relative inactivity of the ISO group (ISO/TC 221), for the ISO group has not convened since May 2007 and the proposal to organise a meeting this year in South-Korea together with a local congress was not received too well. In the meantime the ISO convener has reported that the Korean meeting will not take place and that a new date will be determined during the conference in South-Africa in September of this year.

The TC secretary, Fred Foubert, announced his resignation as from October 1, 2009 after 15 years. Because the secretariat is not related to a person, but to a national standardisation institute, the NBN was asked to appoint a new secretary or to leave it to another country. In concentration with the other interested parties, it has been agreed that Mrs. Inge De Witte of Centexbel will replace Fred Foubert as from October 1st.

The mandate of the convenor, Adam Bezuijen (NL), will end on December 31, 2009. To guarantee the continuity of the presidency of the TC, Mister Bezuijen is ready to prolong his term with one more year. This proposal was unanimously accepted by the TC.

The next CEN/TC 189 meeting will take place on June 17 and 18, 2010. The location will be communicated in due time.