Indigenous people and communities can play an important role in pipeline monitoring and leak detection. By becoming a valuable partner for pipeline monitoring and spill response, these communities fulfill an important role that can lead to better leak detection, increased response times, new employment opportunities in local communities and increased environmental protection.

In April 2018, the Government of Canada announced funding support for a project to provide pipeline monitoring training for Indigenous communities. The project brings together Alberta Innovates' subsidiaries C-FER Technologies and InnoTech Alberta, with the Aboriginal Environment Services Network. Funding in the amount of $566,000 from Western Economic Diversification, the Province of Alberta and InnoTech Alberta will provide two training opportunities for Indigenous people from all over Western Canada.

The project will begin by training 60 Indigenous pipeline monitors from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Trainees will learn the latest in pipeline inspection techniques, operations, security, safety, and emergency response.

Training will take place in three groups during the spring and summer of 2018. The curriculum focuses on:

  • Monitoring for smaller gathering lines
  • Verifying results from aerial detection technologies
  • Detecting leaks rapidly as they start
  • Complementing existing pipeline monitoring programs

A three-month capstone project with an industry mentor or industry work placement will commence following the completion of classroom training.

Following the general training program, a second tier of training will begin for two specialized canine oil detection teams. These "detector dogs" are non-intrusive and can perform better in the detection of pipeline releases than traditional gas detectors.

The project matches an oil detecting canine with an Indigenous handler. Over a four-week period, each canine-handler team will be trained in oil detection techniques. InnoTech and C-FER scientists and engineers will test each dog to for their ability to detect oil leaks, and report on the optimal conditions and scenarios for the utilization of these "detector dogs." Training will occur in partnership with instructors from groups such as SAIT, Indigenous Engineering Inclusion Inc. and Detector Dog Services International.

Tapping into InnoTech Alberta's Aboriginal Environmental Services Network, this project will support the need to provide skilled people to conduct environmental services within Alberta and Canada.

Read more from CBC and the Edmonton Journal.