SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 1993

Evaluation of Pipeline Leak Detection Systems


Leaking underground storage tank systems present an environmental concern and a potential health hazard. It is well known that leaks in the piping associated with these systems account for a sizeable fraction of the leaks. EPA has established performance standards for pipeline leak detection systems, and published a document presenting test protocols for evaluating these systems against the standards. This paper discusses a number of facets and important features of evaluating such systems, and presents results from tests of several systems. The importance of temperature differences between the ground and the product in the line is shown both in theory and with test data. The impact of the amount of soil moisture present is addressed, along with the effect of frozen soil. These features are addressed both for line tightness test systems, which must detect leaks of 0.10 gal/h (0.38 L/h) at 150% of normal line pressure, or 0.20 gal/h (0.76 L/h) at normal line pressure, and for automatic line leak detectors that must detect leaks of 3 gal/h (11 L/h) at 10 psi (69 kPa) within an hour of the occurrence of the leak. This paper also addresses some statistical aspects of the evaluation of these systems. Reasons for keeping the evaluation process “blind” to the evaluated company are given, along with methods for assuring that the tests are blind. Most importantly, a test procedure is presented for evaluating systems that report a flow rate (not just a pass/fail decision) that is much more efficient than the procedure presented in the EPA protocol, and is just as stringent.

Author Information

Glauz, WD
Midwest Research Institute, Kansas City, MO
Flora, JD
Midwest Research Institute, Kansas City, MO
Hennon, GJ
Midwest Research Institute, Kansas City, MO
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Developed by Committee: E50
Pages: 151–161
DOI: 10.1520/STP25082S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5224-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-1858-4