Seawater Pipe Inlet Cleaning


Seawater Pipe Inlet Cleaning

A DAMM fine team headed round to Macrihanish in the Mull of Kintyre recently to clean and survey three seawater inlet pipes at MERL, the Marine Environmental Research Laboratory. The University of Stirling operate MERL, and MERL is the Institute of Aquaculture’s marine site at Machrihanish near Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula. This versatile facility pumps and filters seawater 24 hours a day and hosts a wide range of academic and contract research, including pharmaceutical development for salmonid aquaculture to the Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) standard.

The Institute of Aquaculture is a leading international centre in its field, and one of the largest of its kind in the world. Their excellent staff, facilities and networks, including the Marine Environmental Research Laboratory, make them the natural first choice for academic, commercial and public research partners from across the globe.


The three pipes in question at MERL needed to be thoroughly cleaned. Gravel, seawater debris and all manner of aquatic matter had built up in and around the pipes – that run from the lab right into the sea. The direction of the water flows from the sea to the lab. The pipes lead from the sea to tanks on the beach that are attached to pumps, and these pumps pump the water in (they’re not discharge pipes.)


Before our DAMM team could commence their cleaning work, divers were required in this particular instance to cap the pipes. This was to try to minimise the amount of seawater coming in to the pipes, which would allow for a more straightforward cleaning operation. Our team used high pressure jetting via our recycling unit – jetting back into the pump wells to dispel the build-up of unwelcome sea related matter. Whilst the jetting was in full flow, our vactor unit was busy sucking out all of the excess water and subsequent debris.

Once the jetting had finished we attempted to CCTV survey the pipes – but because the gradient on the pipes runs back in towards the sea, our camera was being submerged into now murky water, which didn’t allow for a clear inspection. We had to then instruct the divers to return into the sea. They then removed the caps from the ends of the pipes to allow fresh seawater to run through the pipes. Once this fresh seawater had run through the pipes for a time, we again instructed the divers to cap the pipes. We then had to pump down the well and re-survey the pipes. Because the seawater was now clean and clear we could clearly see via our camera, the condition of the pipes. At the end of this particular job we recommended that the University of Stirling adopt a tailored maintenance programme to keep the pipes in the best possible condition.

Here at DAMM regardless of a pipe or drainage system’s location, or situation, we have the experience and specialist equipment to tackle a myriad of cleaning and drainage issues. Thanks to Mark, Ross and John for their hard work on this particular job – in this case three DAMM staff amounted to fifty plus years of experience!