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Sniffing out leaks

13th June 2019

Use of a police trained sniffer dog to detect gas leaks has saved a gas distributor over £100,000 over the past 18 months.

Midge and Steve

Midge the spaniel is Northern Gas Networks' newest, cutest engineering recruit. A police-trained sniffer dog, Midge's uncanny sense of smell has had a remarkable hit rate across the company's network, with Midge sniffing out leaks across Yorkshire, Cumbria and the North East of England.

By helping engineers pinpoint the precise source of leaks, Midge has helped reduce excavations, traffic disruption and costs. Engineers have been deploying Midge around six times a month, and once sceptical engineers have been won over by his all-knowing nose.

Northern Gas Networks engineer Alan Walker recently used Midge after water found its way into a gas main on Estoril Street, Darlington. The problem was causing low gas pressure to customers' homes.
Alan said: "We brought Midge in, and he found the source of the problem almost immediately, allowing us to dig down and get the water out of the gas pipe.

"It's fair to say we were all a bit sceptical at first, but now we've seen Midge in action, we are believers. We've made him a fully-fledged member of the team, and are looking forward to working with him on future jobs."

Midge’s handler, Steve Foster, a former police dog handler, said: “Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, believed to be around 5,000 times better than humans. 
“Midge loves working with Northern Gas Networks, and is out on the network almost every week, helping the engineers to find and fix gas leaks.”

Northern Gas Networks (NGN) keep 2.7 million homes and businesses cooking on gas, through a vast underground pipe network. As well as providing a safe and reliable service to customers in North East, Northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire, the company works to develop green and sustainable energy solutions, fit for a low-carbon future.