Elia, Belgium’s high-voltage transmission system operator, recently reached out to The Sniffers to detect possible small leaks on their underground cables. These specific types of electric cables are foreseen of an insulation fluid. External damage to these cables can cause a fluid leak, which undermines the proper functioning and can locally contaminate the soil.
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 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.
Kristof Verwaest, Pipeline Division Operations Director 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,” he adds.
After dog handler Luc trained dog Meki with a sample of the fluid, they executed a survey of the whole trajectory and found a first small leak within 1 day. A few drops of fluid were sufficient for Meki to localize the leak.
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