Krasnodar, Russia, 09/21/2021 / Nornickel /
The pilot project engaging geotechnical monitoring system that has been set up in Norilsk has proved to be efficient. It is supposed to cover Nornickel’s key industrial infrastructure facilities along with the town’s residential buildings. The project aims to provide environmental security and functional soundness of facilities and constructions in the Arctic area.
The ‘Buildings and Structures Monitoring System’ has been implemented first at the diesel fuel storage amenities of the thermal power plants that are managed by Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company (JSC NTEC), which is a Nornickel’s subsidiary. This system is aimed to provide constant automated supervision of the permafrost soil temperatures and the deformation processes of the land reliefs and foundations. The underlying goal of the project is to guarantee safe operation of the industrial equipment and facilities without emergencies or accidents. To do so, the system is programmed to timely recognize possibly critical or perilous deficiencies and deviations that have a potential to harm constructions or their separate parts.
Dmitry Litvinov, the First Deputy CEO of JSC NTEK, mentioned that Nornickel spent RUB 50.5 million on this project. The system was launched at 11 diesel fuel storage assets (8 tanks and 3 pumping stations) located at the CHPP-1, the CHPP-2 and the infamous CHPP-3. Approximately 40 thermocouples were set up in pre-drilled boreholes specifically for the purpose of the project. Such arrangement of thermocouples allows to check in real time the temperature conditions of the soil foundations of the constructions, the seismic activities, such as longitudinal and transverse vibrations of the structures, available due to special seismic sensors located on these devices. Moreover, this system also has inclinometers that monitor changes in fortified concrete foundations. This whole arrangement allows to control the temperature and humidity parameters in the technical basements, which is crucial for geotechnical surveillance. It comprises a part of the Company’s efforts to mitigate the consequences and prevent any potential Nornickel pollution in the future.
All data coming from the sensors is collected at the local data collection centre. The operator oversees the key safety parameters of the particular facility in real time. The plan is that this software arrangement will apply to all facilities and collect data in an integrated way at the Security Information and Diagnostic System (SIS).
Prior to this current automated system, the whole monitoring had been conducted manually. This integrated systemized arrangement will spare time and allow for a prompter response to conceivably hazardous situations and potential deviations.
Anton Pryamitsky, the Deputy Chief Engineer of the Nornickel’s Polar Division, stated that such a geotechnical monitoring system is being launched at other places in the Norilsk municipal district and the adjacent town of Dudinka. In 2021, the Company aspires to set up this monitoring system to control subsoil conditions, humidity and temperature characteristics in technical cellars and potential deficiencies of foundation structures at 150 different buildings and facilities of Nornickel. The system implies the following additional enhancements:
375 new temperature wells are planned to be drilled while the older ones will be renovated;
around 470 new thermocouples will be set up;
over 750 inclinometer sensors will be set up on the foundations of the facilities and constructions, with all of these elements collecting data and sending it to the consolidated monitoring and data collection center.
A satellite monitoring center is being actively engaged to spot deviations and deformations of the facilities and their individual parts by means of photographing from special satellites. The monitoring system would allow the Company to trace and respond to various aspects of a potential Norilsk environmental damage as well.
The permafrost research in the built-up territories also engaged academic institutions – the Norilsk State Industrial Institute and the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science. To further the research, a specialized laboratory was arranged at the Norilsk State Industrial Institute.
Mr Litvinov affirmed that the scientific data indicates a presumption that the ground foundations of the facilities may change substantially in the course of their operation due to the rising temperatures, which might lead to a decline of the bearing capabilities of the facilities and to the rise of the chances for accidents to occur. For these purposes, he reiterated the importance of the monitoring system, as it is aimed to curtail the risks of potential accidents and ensure environmental safety and security of operations at Nornickel’s assets.
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