Panton McLeod carries out first-ever rope access job

by Scott Douglas

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Water cleaning specialists Panton McLeod has used its first-ever specialist abseil team to ensure customers in the Midlands get the cleanest supplies at the tap.

The firm, which is one of the UK’s leading drinking water cleaning engineers, provided a team of Rope Access Specialists to carry out an inspection on a water borehole in Coventry.

Officials at Severn Trent Water had decided to carry out the routine inspection of the structure at Waveley Road, Coventry – which is a 170m vertical pipe that pumps drinking water from an underground supply – in order to ensure that it was in good condition and that the water being pumped to the surface was of the highest quality.

But in order to take samples of water from the inside of the pipe for analysis, Panton McLeod had to call on a specialist skills to abseil 15m down into the structure and carry out the inspection.

The inspection was the first of its kind to be undertaken by the firm, which usually carries out cleaning and repair work on huge underground water tanks known as service reservoirs, where drinking water is stored before being sent to the taps.

Paul Henderson, operations director with Panton McLeod, said: “Most of our work involves cleaning big, underground water tanks but we don’t tend to do many inspections at boreholes such as this one.

“The structure is effectively a giant well which is used to pump water from deep underground, so it’s a challenge to actually get inside it and carry out an inspection.

“Water firms regularly carry out routine inspections to check the condition of their drinking water structures. However, some of these facilities are much easier to inspect than others.

“In this case, we had to send a team of highly skilled staff with abseiling and confined space training to actually go down 15m into the borehole and carry out the inspection. They took a selection of samples from the walls to measure for the ingress of toxins (if any) into the water supply, to identify if any repair work would need to be done to the structure.

“We passed all samples on to Severn Trent Water for analysis in their labs and we are delighted with how the inspection went.

“Rope Access work is a new service we have introduced and we’re very pleased with how efficiently we were able to inspect this pipeline.

“This kind of work is becoming common throughout all industries due to its non-intrusive and cost effective nature. We hope that we can continue to use it within the very sensitive world of potable water structures.”

Borders-based Panton McLeod works with some of the biggest water companies to inspect, clean and repair drinking water structures across the UK.

The firm has also pioneered the use of special remotely-controlled submarines – called ROVs – which they use to inspect underground water storage tanks while they are still in use, meaning that water supplies are not cut off to customers.

The Waveley Road project is the latest success for the firm and follows a series of major developments in recent months, which has included doubling the size of its UK headquarters, winning major contracts with some of the country’s leading water suppliers and opening its first satellite office in the United States.

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