Integrity digs can be a drag, but they beat the alternative

By Sean Corbett

The pipeline is in. Contracts are signed. The energy company makes token gestures about your property rights. Smooth sailing from here, right? No doom and gloom; it will probably be pretty smooth. Like a lot of folks, you might believe you’re past the digging and construction crews and cacophonous noise.

Not so fast. Your land may be re-ravaged sooner than you think—and here’s why you should welcome it.

Preventative Maintenance Digs Monitoring and inspection tools are running at all times on pipelines. If there is a blip on the radar, THEY CAN DO ONE OF TWO THINGS

A. Ignore: Risk spill city and earn lovely headlines about the end of the world.

B. Do a maintenance dig: So, what’s involved in a maintenance dig?

  1 They strip the topsoil.

  2 Then they excavate to expose the pipe.

  3 They clean the pipe, remove the coating and inspect it. They are looking for corrosion, or cracks, or any need of replacements.

  4 Once repairs or replacements are complete, they are tested, and the pipe is re-coated.

  5 The excavation is backfilled and the affected landscape is restored.

  6 Such a dig can take between two days to two weeks. The kicker? They might find there's nothing wrong with the pipe at all.

The Psychic Cost of An Ounce Of Prevention

Similar to a CT scan that ends with no tumour, you can focus on the relief.

Look, Enbridge reports a 99.9+ per cent safe-delivery record. The unachievable ideal is 100 per cent. So you endure the digs. And they really don’t happen often. But the fact is that it is a possibility, and one you should consider when you have a pipeline running through your land.

The thought of having an on-call crew ready to blast mutant gopher holes in your acreage is not the most satisfying image. But it’s better than a leak, failure, or other catastrophic event.

Companies like Enbridge vow they will get in and out as effectively as they can, and restore the landscape back to tip-top. And with the help of organizations like CAEPLA, you can hold them to it.

Just don’t hate on the maintenance dig, because it is far preferable to the alternative. 

Sean Corbett is an Okanagan-based writer and filmmaker. He runs the marketing agency Repria Multimedia Corp (


Pipeline Observer


Landowner-driven, CAEPLA advocates on behalf of farmers, ranchers, and other rural landowners to promote safety and environmental protection through respect for your property rights.