Environmental applications of geosynthetics in pipeline installations

By Virginia K. Brown
From Geosynthetics Magazine
June 1, 2016

Geo + Pipeline 101

Geosynthetics often play an important role on the environmental side of pipeline installations. During construction, actions must be taken to protect water quality, stabilize soil, and prevent soil erosion.

Pipeline right-of-ways traverse many different types of landscapes, passing through sensitive resource areas such as streams and wetlands. Geosynthetics are used in a variety of situations from start to finish on a pipeline construction project and they aid in water filtration, prevention of soil erosion, and resource protection.

Geosynthetic materials are typically used as a barrier to prevent unwanted material from entering resource areas or unapproved areas. For example, silt fence is often used for perimeter control. Silt fence may be used to keep soil within the construction limits or, more commonly, to serve as a barrier, slowing down sediment-laden water and promoting infiltration. Woven geotextile fabric is also used to line bridges over stream crossings to contain and prevent soil from falling into a waterbody as equipment passes over.

The impermeable type of geosynthetic materials have many applications during pipeline installations. They are often used to construct secondary containment structures for fuels and pumps near waterbodies or to keep contaminated material separated. Impermeable plastic sheeting material can also be used to contain inadvertent fuel spills or leaks in situations where equipment needs to be staged or parked near a sensitive resource area for an extended period of time.

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