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National Grid substation to become launch site for inspections

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The National Grid gas regulating station at the corner of Ives and Holcomb streets in the town of Watertown is being upgraded to become a launching site for inspection of the area’s natural gas pipeline for corrosion and leaks.

The project will include the installation of a 100-foot gas pipeline, attached to a funnel-shaped launcher that extends above ground. Inspection gauges, commonly called smart pigs, will be inserted into the launcher and sent into the gas pipeline for inspections, without affecting its internal pressure flow. After traveling the length of the pipeline in the area, pigs will arrive back at the receiving portion of the launch station. Along with collecting data for inspections, pigs will be used to clean the pipeline.

LMC Industrial Contractors of Dansville, hired by National Grid, started the project in late September and plans to finish work by the end next week, according to the project manager. Smart pigs are capable of inspecting several miles of underground gas lines for problems in a matter of hours. Pigs are removed after inspections and sent to a lab, where information shows if there is corrosion or leaks in the pipeline.

National Grid spokeswoman Virginia J. Limmiatis said residential services will not be affected by the project, which will help the utility identify potential problems. She did not know the distance pigs will travel underground to inspect lines.

“This is part of our monitoring process that helps us project out and plan for problems,” she said. “It’s using innovative gadgets to help monitor and trace any leaks or corrosion” in the pipeline.

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