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Enbridge workers train in Ironwood


Ralph Ansami/Daily Globe

SCOTT CARLSON, of Ironwood, is lowered in an Enbridge Companies confined space entry exercise Tuesday in downtown Ironwood. From left are Grant Gustafson, Luke Peterson and Mike Spencer.

IRONWOOD - Enbridge Pipelines conducted hands-on training exercises for employees Tuesday outside Tacconelli's Down Towne restaurant in Ironwood.

Scott Paquette, an Enbridge employee who lives in Bessemer, explained it was "confined space entry" training, simulating what might happen when employees respond to a pipeline emergency.

A large tripod rigged with a cable was set up to lower employees into a huge tube, then crank them back up.

Enbridge conducts the annual training sessions locally and class training sessions were also held Tuesday inside the building.

Members of the training team said they conduct similar sessions across the country, ranging from North Dakota to New York.

An Enbridge pipeline runs through the Gogebic Range.

Paquette said Enbridge employees are often seen out in the field across the Gogebic Range, checking the pipelines, as safety is a top priority.

New leak research

According to Enbridge, the Canadian company, along with TransCanada Corporation and Kinder Morgan Canada, recently signed an agreement to conduct research into aerial-based leak detection technologies to enhance pipeline safety.

Enbridge officials said the goal of the project is to identify technologies capable of detecting small leaks from liquid petroleum pipeline systems.

The partnership includes $200,000 funding commitments from each of the three companies.

"Pipelines are widely accepted as the safest and most efficient way to transport oil and gas, and TransCanada continues to strive for zero leaks or safety incidents on our pipelines," said Vern Meier, TransCanada's Vice President of Pipeline Safety and Compliance.

Enbridge officials said potential technologies to be tested may include infrared camera-based systems, laser-based spectroscopy systems and flame ionization detection systems, with sensors suitable for mounting on light aircraft or helicopters.

"The challenge with airborne leak detection systems is not with the aircraft, but with selecting appropriate sensors to detect liquid hydrocarbon leaks before they reach the surface," said Brian Wagg, director of Business Development and Planning for C-FER Technologies.

The most recent project is in addition to previous leak detection testing by the pipeline company.


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