As the global demand for leak location and liner integrity surveys increases, the need for upholding the quality of the surveys must be first and foremost. As most project engineers will tell you who have seen many surveys performed, the quality of the survey comes down to the boots on the ground. Survey technicians without a complete understanding of the techniques are likely to miss important details, which are crucial to the successful application of electrical methods.
Current project specifications often provide a minimum experience requirement in terms of the square footage that a company and their on-site supervisor has completed. However, the on-site supervisor, usually the head equipment operator, is not required to undergo any minimum amount of training and/or certification, as is commonly required for welding and CQA technicians. The skill required to successfully conduct a dipole survey on soil or water-covered geomembrane can be significant, with a required understanding of electricity, geophysics and geosynthetic containment designs and systems. Additionally, the skill of a welder may be tested immediately by way of the trial weld. For soil-covered dipole surveys, an unskilled operator performing the survey will result in undetected leaks, which in the case of a single-lined facility may never be detected. The sheer number of surveys one has completed does not mean that those surveys have been completed successfully. It is therefore far more meaningful to require a demonstration of the individual’s education and ability through a certification process.
The certification process must be designed to check an individual for his/her understanding of the methods, and the ability to apply the methods successfully and troubleshoot difficult site conditions. Such a certification process was initiated by Ian Peggs of I-CORP in 2008 as a function of TRI and I-CORP’s Liner Integrity Center (T-CLIC). T-CLIC was formed in order to disseminate education on the electrical leak location methods and uphold survey quality and industry standards by way of a certification program, including the Liner Integrity Survey and Assessment (LISA) class conducted biannually. TRI-CLIC continues to offer operator certification, which has recently been updated to a three-tier process. For the first time, the contents of the certification program and the certification exam itself have been opened to a few select members of the LISA Steering Committee. The results are a more rigorous certification process, embraced by more industry practitioners.
The first tier of certification is achieved through a two-day classroom curriculum and small-scale field practice of the methods by way of the LISA class. The LISA class is conducted biannually in Austin, Texas at TRI’s test pad facility, and can be brought anywhere in the world. The second tier tests an individual’s knowledge and practice through a written and field exam. The written exam tests an individual’s knowledge of the methods and theories, while the field exam tests an individual’s ability to conform to method standards and successfully set up and perform liner integrity surveys. The third tier is a demonstration of the method application through a minimum number of projects and survey area. For maintaining certification, an individual will continue to document his/her survey experience and submit that qualifying experience to T-CLIC. The required experience level of the third tier is method-specific, since the different liner integrity methods require varying levels of skill.
When applied properly, electrical liner integrity methods can locate damage to the geomembrane that could eventually lead to complete failure of the containment system. The importance of locating these defects should be reflected in the system in place for the education, training and certification of method practitioners.