Detecting Leaks in Geomembranes

by Daren L. Laine, Pres.; Leak Location Services, San Antonio, TX,
Glenn T. Darilek, Principal Engineer; Leak Location Services, San Antonio, TX,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1993, Vol. 63, Issue 8, Pg. 50-53

Document Type: Feature article


A field-tested leak-location survey, now commercially-available, can provide construction quality assurance or solve a leakage problem in lined landfills, impoundments or tanks. A liner leak in a waste containment facility can be costly. The facility owner may face environmental cleanup costs and a loss of revenue while the leakage problem is being solved. Also, a new facility that exceeds the allowable leak rate, as defined in the design/operating permit, may not be accepted by the facility owner until the leakage problem is solved. This start-up delay may cause additional expenses or penalties for the general contractor, liner installer, and design engineering firm. This leak location method involves connecting an electrical power supply to electrodes placed above and below a geomembrane to detect areas of localized electrical-current flow through leaks in the liner. If there are no leaks in the geomembrane, a very low current will flow across the liner producing relatively uniform voltage distribution in the material above the liner. If the liner has a leak, the current flows through the leak, causing an anomaly in the electrical distribution. Leaks are located by searching for these areas.

Subject Headings: Pipe leakage | Linings | Power supply | Leakage | Geomembranes | Owners | Environmental issues | Field tests

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