Why Elia relies on sniffing dogs for leak detection on underground cables
Elia, Belgium’s high-voltage transmission system operator, recently reached out to Intero - The Sniffers to detect possible small leaks on their underground cables. These specific types of electric cables are filled with an insulation fluid. External damage to these cables can cause a fluid leak, which undermines the proper functioning and can locally contaminate the soil. Our Pipeline Management team used our sniffing dogs for this project.
Fast response required
During preventive maintenance activities, our maintenance teams noticed a small fluid leak. We were faced with the limitations of measurement equipment to localize this leak. A fast response was necessary to minimize soil contamination, so we contacted Intero - The Sniffers.Elia
Why sniffing dogs to detect fluid leaks?
"At first, Elia was surprised about the possible use of trained sniffing dogs to detect fluid leaks but after several discussions, they gave it a chance", says Kristof Verwaest, Pipeline Division Operations Director of Intero - The Sniffers.
Kristof adds that it is often difficult to locate leaks on fluid-filled electrical cables. “Detecting underground leaks with measurement equipment above ground is often quite difficult and time-consuming due to the rather heavy product composition of the insulating fluid in Elia’s case. In these situations, the extremely sensitive nose of our sniffing dogs can provide the solution.”
After dog handler Luc trained sniffing dog Meki with a sample of the fluid, they executed a survey of the whole trajectory and found a small leak within one day. A few drops of fluid were sufficient for Meki to localize the leak.
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