Corrosion predominantly affects pipes under aggressive conditions, which includes being buried underground, or submerged in water. Water chemistry for submerged pipes heightens corrosion tendencies due to the reactivity of liquids or complications in oxygen content, causing damage and leaks.
While no technology yet can restore damaged pipes and leaky parts, cathodic protection can prolong a pipeline’s lifespan through an electrical method that reduces the corrosion rate of the pipe’s surface by converting it into the cathode of an electro chemical cell.
Submerged pipes that end up leaking cause major damage, especially if under major bodies of water or healthy aquatic areas. The case of molasses spill in Hawaii, for example, was due to a pipe leak that cost the life of 26,000 fish and other marine life, including coral reefs.
The accident happened in 2013, but several bills and steps proposed are still in effect today, in response to the worldwide alarm on oil and toxic spills. 1,400 tons of molasses oozed out of a section of the pipe suspected to be corrosive. It discolored the water and suffocated marine life.
While new tech is under development to aid the process of determining dangerous pipes, studies show that people are nearly three times more likely to detect a leak than high-tech monitors. The risk of pipelines failing has always been high, but vigilance and smart planning can change the face of the game.
Pipeline protection is advised for anybody who wants to protect their investments and projects. In some cases, cathodic protection is required by policy or regulation. The United States Department of Transportation has established regulations and standards regarding pipeline safety and protection.
Submerged pipes are more difficult to look after because they are obviously not in plain sight. However, studying the failed area can help experts determine the root cause of the failure, hence, developing a better solution. Failure can be minimized by selecting suitable materials as early as the design stage.