Large-scale leak detection with Maija Leinonen

Polygon has helped with leak detection work inside of a containing tank, used in a Finnish factory. When the factory suspected that something wasn’t right with this huge 4000 square cubic meter tank, containing liquid used in the production process, the factory sprang into action and immediately assigned Polygon to combat the issue. Here, we speak to Maija Leinonen, a Polygon field worker, to find out more.

In early July 2022, Polygon Finland was alerted to this unique project – a factory suspecting issues with their large tank. Because the tank was filled with a liquid chemical substance, it was of the highest importance that the structure was completely secured to protect against potentially harmful spills. It was an excellent idea of the factory to directly contact Polygon Finland, because the tank indeed had commencements of minor leaks.

Maija Leinonen, a highly experienced field worker, together with Hannu Kärki, WDR Manager at Polygon Finland, have been working on this project from start to finish. Hannu, being responsible for the training and development of the leak detection services in the Finnish team, has been mentoring Maija in this work.

Maija explains the process of leak detection in this case: “First the vessel was emptied and cleaned by another company, to make sure it was safe for us to venture into the tank. Then we started the process of identifying the leaks, which isn’t an easy task when the leaks could be spread out over such a large area. To cover the most ground possible in the shortest time, we decided on the technique of using gas detectors to find the specific centimetres within the 50-metre tall, 20-metre-wide tank that could cause leaks.”

The gas detection technique can be summarised as pushing a tracer gas into a structure, to see where this gas leaks out, using detectors. With this approach, the factory finds out exactly where the potential leaks are, and can then repair them successfully.

Taking important safety measures

Working in an environment such as this comes with its hazards, including the risk of falling and the different ways that technicians could be hurt in brittle environments. In addition, the Polygon team also made sure that one worker always remained outside the tank to monitor oxygen levels when others were inside. If levels dropped too far, the team would then be evacuated.

Despite the potentially dangerous conditions, Maija was unfazed. “I just think it was exciting to work in a different environment to usual. I didn’t feel like it was dangerous at all,” she says.

To make sure everyone was as safe as possible, daily risk analyses were made, assessing what the team must consider and ensuring they were always prepared for the various tasks and outcomes.

Finalising the project

Over the course of three intense days, the team successfully identified the minor leaks, that thanks to the factory’s quick action, hadn’t become a substantial problem yet. Remaining in close dialogue with the client throughout, Polygon marked up exactly where the leaks were positioned and handed the job back to the factory for effective long-term repairs to be carried out.

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