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Above-Ground Inspection Used in Facilities for Effective Risk Identification and Prioritization – Xylem

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Leading chemical producer proactively inspects in-plant buried pipelines to ensure safe transport of hazardous products.

Project Summary

  • Assessed over 70,000 feet of in-plant buried pipeline
  • Spectrum XLI completed 8 separate above ground surveys in single pass over the pipeline, providing clear correlation of all survey results
  • Effectively prioritized anomalies within the pipeline system to inform the remediation strategy
  • Minimized risk within the pipeline system to prevent incidents that could otherwise have a detrimental impact on the environment

Services Provided

  • Spectrum XLI above ground survey assessment
  • Spectrum XLI survey results correlated with existing condition assessment data
  • Prioritization of existing anomalies and risks within pipeline system

As part of an overall continuous improvement approach, our client – one of the world’s top chemical producer’s, decided to pro-actively evaluate an area of potential risk within their plants. While the transportation of hazardous material through transmission pipelines is strictly regulated, pipelines within the boundaries of a chemical plant or facility are not regulated by the Department of Transportation. Though the risk of external corrosion exists for buried pipelines whether they are in-plant or not, a lack of regulation could indicate that many producers are not aware of the risks facing their in-plant buried assets.

The client places the utmost importance on the prevention of any Loss of Primary Containment (LOPC) incidents as the environmental, financial and reputational fall-out from these incidents can be severe. To minimize their risk of LOPC incidents, they set out on an initiative to pro-actively inspect the condition of their in-plant buried pipelines and take corrective action where necessary to ensure safe operation within their chemical plants.


In keeping with this pro-active mindset, our client embarked on an initiative to not only inspect in-plant buried pipelines, but to also develop a risk prioritization methodology for any anomalies found throughout the inspection process.

The unpiggable nature of in-facility pipelines meant that various above ground-surveys would need to be performed to provide the conditional information necessary for effective risk prioritization. The client understood that the accuracy of these surveys was paramount as their in-plant pipeline systems had areas of high congestion, which created challenges that midstream pipeline operators are less likely to face. For example, valves and abandoned pipelines in proximity to other in-facility infrastructure existed; making survey data difficult to interpret.

The client initially engaged multiple vendors to complete the various above ground surveys but found that the data being provided was more limited than their requirements. The reality of engaging separate vendors for each survey also caused concern over the subsequent task of correlating the various survey results as this could cause issues with accurately prioritizing risk areas.


PureHM was engaged to complete the above ground survey work on their in-plant buried pipeline assets. The decision to partner with PureHM on this project came after learning the capabilities of Spectrum XLI – an advanced above ground survey platform. A unique feature of Spectrum XLI is its ability to complete up to 10 different surveys in one single pass of the pipeline. This capability eliminated concerns over the need to accurately correlate data from numerous vendors to complete a precise risk prioritization.


Spectrum XLI was used to perform the above ground inspection of 5 facilities in the US Gulf Coast region. Approximately 85 lines were surveyed totalling over 70,000 feet of pipe, ranging in diameter from 1 to 36 inches. For this project, the following surveys were completed:

  • GPS Centerline Mapping
  • Depth of Cover
  • Alternating Current & Direct Current Pipe to Soil
  • Cathodic Protection (CP CIPS)
  • Alternating Current Voltage Gradient (ACVG)
  • Direct Current Voltage Gradient (DCVG)
  • Alternating Current-Current Attenuation (ACCA)
  • Soil Corrosivity

The results of the Spectrum XLI survey were analyzed by PureHM technicians and correlated with the existing data the client had received from previously engaged vendors. PureHM worked collaboratively with the client to interpret the data and prioritize the anomalies discovered within the pipeline systems with the end goal of remediating prioritized threats to ensure safe operation.


The above ground surveys performed on the client’s in-plant buried pipelines provided a comprehensive overview of existing anomalies within their system. They now have a clear picture of their in-plant buried piping and can be confident that a lack of regulation relating to these types of assets has not left them exposed to undue risk.

The effective prioritization of these faults has enabled the client to focus on remediating those anomalies that would pose the highest risk to their system had they gone undetected. Without effective risk prioritization is it difficult for operators to be efficient in their remediation strategy. This can, in turn, lead to unnecessary excavations, which are costly and have the potential to cause needless environmental damage.

The Spectrum XLI survey results combined with the expertise and collaborative nature of the technicians performing the analysis gave our client confidence in the risk prioritization methodology resulting from this work. By assessing the buried piping and evaluating the identified anomalies they have effectively lowered their risk and ensured that their piping is fit for continued operation.

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Learn more about Spectrum XLI and PureHM’s Above-Ground Inspection capabilities

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