Piney Point and the importance of accurate leak monitoring

We want to highlight the importance of regular monitoring of waste water reservoirs which contain toxic compounds. Toxic leaks happen for numerous reasons and we go into a recent example of such a leak and the damage it can cause for the company responsible, the environment and people living in the surrounding area. Finally we discuss how we believe our product is well suited to help prevent such situations in the future.

Recently an incident occurred at a Piney Point waste water reservoir located in Florida which deserves some attention. The wall of the reservoir breached and polluted water started to pour out into the surrounding area. As a result millions of litres of waste water have flowed into the ground and local waterways, with many more litres being pumped directly into Port Manatee which is an entrance to Tampa Bay on Florida’s west coast. This was done by workers in order to prevent the reservoir wall from collapsing completely and causing further harm. Experts claim that the damage to the marine life is irreparable. As Stevens from Environment Florida said – it takes decades and millions of dollars to restore marine ecosystems such as sea grasses but it takes only an increase in the acidity to wipe it all away.

The overall breach in the stack wall was serious and a fear of a further collapse triggered the evacuation of more than 300 homes, farms and businesses in the area. According to state officials residents who live in close proximity are physically safe for the time being. However the situation in Manatee County escalated to the extent that local residents protested regarding the handling of this spill. This also garnered international attention as can be highlighted by this Czech article.

Why do such leaks occur?

According to Geosynthetica, geomembrane liner which are used to prevent leaks are inevitable as damage occurs to the membrane over time through:

  • Ultra violet light exposure
  • Oxidative exposure
  • Radioactive exposure
  • Chemical exposure
  • Biological degradation
  • Thermal exposure

Many industries opt to monitor a metric called Action Leak Rate (ARL). In the United States the USEPA established a Final Rule for the ALRs through the primary liners of double lining systems in both liquid and solid hazardous waste impoundments. The measure they arrived at is 100 gpad which is used for solid waste this has a maximum leachate head of 1 ft, and 1000 gpad for ponds. In order to comply with such standards, trained technicians are deployed to conduct leakage assessments manually. We’ve mentioned the pitfalls of this approach in our previous blog highlighting common human errors. Therefore we believe that these approaches are often not up to the task and technology has to be deployed to minimize risk.

Looking back at Piney Point, according to environmental activists decades of regulatory failure are responsible for the incident. Most likely a leak in the geomembrane liner has degraded overtime and was not fixed or replaced as prior leaks were not assessed. In fact the US Army Core engineers warned of such a possibility back in 2008. When a tear in the liner occurs not only does the reservoir water begin to wear down the stack wall, but rain water can cause further water leakage to flow further down the stack polluting the soil and ground water. Years of leaking can erode the reservoir wall causing a breach such as the one in Florida.

This highlights the importance of regular monitoring and maintenance of such waste water reservoir across industries using smart technology. Our product is ideally suited for this task as it can autonomously, cost effectively and quickly assess and identify to within 10 centimetres whether or not there is a leak present.“ELIS sensors are up to 100 times more precise than previously available technology, reducing both the potential for human error as well as environmental impact,” said Tomas Gregor, Chief Technology Officer of ELIS Technologies Ltd.

The eLagoon uses patent-pending 3D GPS eMapping technology, and is an ideal solution for preventing such an event from happening as it can detect potentially toxic leaks in water reservoirs. Both clients and experts attest to the groundbreaking nature of this product and its application across industries spanning the globe. This was demonstrated by our recent work in Israel.

We believe in order to prevent risk of damaged reputation, litigation, future pollution as well as financial penalties regular scheduled checks are necessary and we are more than willing to help out.

About ELIS Technologies Ltd:

ELIS Technologies Ltd is robotics and AI enterprise that develops robots and systems which integrate proprietary 3D GPS eMapping.

3D GPS eMapping autonomously navigates robots during measurements, gathers spatial readings of electric field potentials as well as GPS coordinates. Data are then interpreted by a neuronal network and recorded on a public blockchain. This creates indisputable proof of measurement, parameters and outcomes.



photo credit – Videophotog productions inc

Zuzana Gregorová

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