Nornickel pilots permafrost geotechnical monitoring system

Russian producer Nornickel is piloting an automated geotechnical monitoring system that will keep a check on permafrost ground temperatures and deformation behaviour, as climate change increasingly impacts on the company’s critical Norilsk area.
Nornickel pilots permafrost geotechnical monitoring system Nornickel pilots permafrost geotechnical monitoring system Nornickel pilots permafrost geotechnical monitoring system Nornickel pilots permafrost geotechnical monitoring system Nornickel pilots permafrost geotechnical monitoring system

The Putorana Plateau, Taimyr. Russia

Nornickel said the 50.5 million ruble (US$682,000) pilot focuses on 11 diesel fuel storage facilities - a fuel storage tank at Norilsk-Taimyr Energy's Thermal Power Plant No. 3 that ruptured last May caused an environmental disaster, flooding local rivers with up to 17,500 tonnes of diesel oil.

The new system involves the use of 40 "thermocos" in pre-drilled boreholes, which allow online monitoring of the temperature state of the ground bases of the facilities.

In addition, the system was equipped with seismic sensors (which monitor longitudinal and transverse vibrations of the structures) and inclinometers, which respond to deviations of reinforced concrete foundations. The system also makes it possible to monitor the temperature and humidity conditions in technical cellars.

All data from the sensors is sent to a local data collection centre. The system allows the operator to monitor in real-time the status of the key safety parameters of the facility. In the future, this software will be integrated into an integrated set of data collection and analysis parameters for all facilities referred to as the Security Information and Diagnostic System (SIS).

Deputy Chief Engineer of Nornickel's Polar Division Anton Pryamitsky said that a geotechnical monitoring system is also being installed at other sites in the Norilsk municipal district and Dudinka. In 2021, a system to monitor the temperature condition of subsoil, temperature and humidity conditions in technical cellars and deformation behaviour of foundation structures will be installed at 150 different company facilities.

"Scientific data suggests that the ground bases of facilities in the course of their operation may change significantly in the event of rising temperatures — there may be a decrease in bearing capacity, which in turn increases the likelihood of accidents. Therefore, an automated geotechnical monitoring system is so important to us. It will make it possible to minimise the risks of emergencies, observe environmental safety and ensure reliability of operations at the company's facilities," commented Dmitry Litvinov, first deputy CEO of Norilsk-Taimyr Energy Company, a Nornickel subsidiary.