Spill-Response Application Tracks Incident Data

GeoEngineers’ environmental team uses an integrated incident-management application to organize, track and rapidly respond to utility spills.

GeoEngineers’ major utility client has more than 650,000 oil- and chemical-filled devices in its asset inventory—from a single transformer to a 7 million-gallon capacity diesel storage tank—so it must actively manage periodic spills that occur when assets are damaged. These incidents can be as small as a leak from a roadside transformer after a car accident to less common but larger accidental releases of fuel and other chemicals. These events can happen any hour of the day and are distributed over hundreds of square miles, so it can be challenging to track, manage and interpret the large volumes of data.

Approach

The utility relies on GeoEngineers to manage its spill-response program, so when the utility’s program managers asked for immediate and full access to all spill-related information, our technology team developed a robust incident-management application that organizes the spill data and presents it in a secure, user-friendly, web-based format. The benefits of this approach include:

  • First responders can input data—including field photographs, documents, geospatial information and comments—directly to the system using a mobile device in the field.
  • Project managers can review the incident data in map or tabular form, and search and sort incidents based on type, date and location.
  • The system can export the indident data to pre-formatted reports to submit to regulatory agencies

Results

The spill-tracking application, which launched in 2003 and contains 3,000+ records, has undergone numerous updates and refinements. It has met all the original expectations of the project, including streamlined data acquisition, reduced errors, simplified reporting and lowered cost of incident response. Over time, however, the system has offered many other benefits, including:

  • The database gives our client easy access to historical spill data for individual sites or groups of sites, thereby supporting property management and other operational functions
  • Our client’s ability to respond to state agency requests quickly and professionally has built a reservoir of trust between the client and regulators
  • The system gives our client and GeoEngineers a common point of reference when planning operational improvements
  • The operational efficiencies of this technology have enabled GeoEngineers to keep the average cost per spill response virtually the same since 1999, despite all other costs rising over that period

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