The Environment

Clearflow has a philosophical commitment to the environment that goes beyond compliance with statutory regulations. Research shows that communities believe it is the role of government at all levels to manage environmental issues and that they expect proactive leadership in this area.

Clearflow is an active participant in the circular economy and we follow an Environmental, Social, and Governance, (ESG) framework in our problem analysis and recommendations.

The use of water in pipeline cleaning is inevitable, but different processes require different amounts of water, and it is fully dependent on the circumstances of the case. Clearflow balances a range of important factors, including care of the environment, when presenting alternatives and making recommendations. It is ultimately the client’s decision as to which process will be adopted.

As part of our consultation and problem analysis, where the anticipated consumption of water outweighs the perceived benefits to be achieved, Clearflow will recommend an alternative process to the client.

Clearflow will never recommend and will never sub-contract ice-pigging.

It is our well-substantiated belief that the amount of water, power, salt, chemicals and the physical impact on the footprint of work by the necessary equipment cannot be justified in terms of benefits achieved. This is supported by the fact that ninety percent of urban and regional councils and state water authorities in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, which have the highest concentration of populations and industry, do not contract ice pigging services.


The advocates of ice-pigging consistently draw comparisons with flushing and swabbing. Clearflow uses neither of these processes. Advocates do not make a direct comparison with air-scouring which is Clearflow Australia’s most purchased process.  Air scouring shares some benefits with ice pigging:

  • in both processes the need for pig traps is avoided
  • air and ice are effective for bends and difficult to reach areas of a pipeline
  • neither process requires launchers and receivers
  • neither process uses a pig
  • both processes remove debris and built up contaminants from the internal bore

However, air scouring provides a number of additional benefits. It:

  • removes a greater amount of debris and built up contaminants resulting in higher levels of restored water flows and better quality of water
  • uses far less water
  • uses far less power than is needed to manufacture large quantities of ice with sufficient shear strength to remove debris and contaminants from the internal bore
  • does not use brine or salt. Brine contains up to 26% salt.
  • does not require the use of heavy haulage equipment that impacts on the immediate service environment
  • uses no chemicals
  • can be executed in remote and difficult to reach geographic locations whereas ice pigging requires access for heavy haulage equipment
  • can be executed in remote and difficult to reach geographic locations whereas ice pigging can only operate in a defined radius of its production plant
  • can be executed in all climatic conditions whereas ice pigging is weather dependent due to the prevailing temperature and the melting of the ice
  • produces smaller quantities of residue that do not need to be processed by a water treatment plant.

Air scouring and pigging are more cost effective in comparison with ice pigging, in terms of immediate financial cost, and the longer-term financial benefits of extended cleaning cycles.

Ice pigging service providers point out that air scouring is only suitable for pipelines of less than 375mm in diameter. This is absolutely true, but for larger diameter pipelines pigging is a more appropriate process, for many of the above-mentioned reasons. Documented case studies of ice-pigging report successful results in situations where the pipelines had either never been cleaned, or had not been cleaned for many years. In these cases, most cleaning processes would yield results as the pipes are so dirty.

The issue is what is left behind and whether the pipes are completely clean. Please take a look at Clearflow Australia’s projects where our client feedback demonstrates that excellent results can be achieved without the range of environmental drawbacks associated with ice pigging.