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Natural gas pipeline to be 'cleaned'

North Dakota Pipeline Authority

A major natural gas pipeline that runs through North Dakota will be at reduced capacity for a few days in September.

TC Energy will be using what are called in the industry “pigs” to clean the Northern Border pipeline.

"Think of a cleaning tool, like a really high-tech grill brush," said North Dakota Pipeline Authority executive director Justin Kringstad.

Kringstad said once that “pig” goes through, a second device – called a “smart pig”—will check for leaks.

"Think of that like a 'super computer' that they run through," Kringstad said. "It puts a magnetic field, or current, along the inside of the pipeline. They're able to detect anomalies — any type of corrosion, dings — any issues will get flagged by that system running through."

Kringstad said the pipeline will be able to operate while this procedure takes place.

So – how did these tools get the “pig” moniker?

"One of the original thoughts was the sound they make as they travel through the pipe," Kringstad said. "It has a squealing sound."

Kringstad said the industry has now created an acronym — 'pipeline inspection gauge" or 'pipeline inspection gadget.'

"But I think the old squealing sound is the one I'd like to stick with," Kringstad said.

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