Pipeline Safety Update

Pipeline Safety Guide

Each stakeholder group, including members of the general public, plays a critical role in ensuring pipeline safety. Learn about the specific steps that you can take to keep your community safe.

Recognizing and Responding to Pipeline Leaks

Remember that pipelines carry both flammable gases and hazardous liquids.  Gas leaks in most city and residential areas are recognizable by the characteristic smell of rotten eggs.  Both gas and hazardous liquid leaks often kill nearby vegetation.  If you notice either of these symptoms, call 911 or your local gas utility, and avoid any action that could ignite the gas or oil while you await response.  For more information, see the guidance below.

Dig Safely

Excavation damage is the leading cause of incidents that result in death and/ or serious injury. Regardless of where you are, there may be pipelines and other utilities buried underground.  It is important to follow safe digging practices, whether you are a homeowner planting a tree or digging a fence post hole, or a professional excavator. Safe digging always starts with a prior call to your local one call center to mark underground utilities. Knowing what’s below enables diggers to avoid underground utilities, and can prevent injury, death, environmental damage and loss of critical services.

One-call Centers One-call centers provide a simple means for locating underground utilities in an area where you plan to excavate by enabling you to place just one call, before digging.  You should plan to make this call at least three days before undertaking any excavation to allow time for marking to occur.

Dial 811 – By simply dialing 811, you can reach the one-call center.  There is no cost to you for this service.  If, for some reason, you can’t connect to the one-call center by dialing 811, dial 1-888-258-0808 or visit Call811.com and select the Local Info tab for information to call the one-call center directly.

Are Pipelines Located Near You?

To find out if an oil or gas transmission pipeline is located near you, visit the website for the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS). Click on the “NPMS Public Map Viewer” button, and search by your county or zip code. Get step-by-step user instructions by watching our video, “How to Locate Pipelines with the Public Viewer App. ” Never use NPMS information in place of calling a one-call center before digging.

Additional Public Awareness Information

PHMSA provides additional information on its Stakeholder Communications website. There you can find information on the following, and more:            

PIPELINE SAFETY CHECKLIST

Guidance for Recognizing and Responding to Pipeline Leaks In Your Home or Workplace:
If you notice the distinctive sulfur or “rotten egg” smell of odorized natural gas, follow these DO's and DONT's.

DO!

Make sure gas appliances are turned all the way OFF;
Leave the building and go outdoors area;
Call 911 from a neighbor's house or other location well away from the gas leak;
Explain the situation and listen to all instructions;
Warn others—if it is safe to do so—against entering the leak area and/or creating ignition sparks.

DO NOT!

Start an engine of any kind of machinery or power device;  
Strike matches or create a flame of any kind;
Use a telephone or cell phone (these can ignite airborne gases);
Use a “striking” tool that may generate a spark;
Turn on or off any light switches, garage door openers or other electrical switches (these also can ignite airborne gases).

Near a Pipeline Right-of-Way:
Along a right-of-way, you may see dead or discolored vegetation, pooled liquid, or a cloud of vapor or mist.  You may smell an unusual odor, or the scent of petroleum or odorized natural gas.  And you may hear an unusual hissing or roaring sound.  If you suspect a pipeline leak has occurred:

DO!

Make sure gas appliances are turned all the way OFF;
Leave the area;
Telephone 911 from a neighbor's house or other location well away from the gas leak;
Explain the situation;
Warn others—if it is safe to do so—against entering the leak area and/or creating ignition sparks.

DO NOT!

Touch, breathe or make contact with leaking liquids;
Start an engine or any kind of machinery or power device;
Strike matches or create a flame of any kind;
Use a telephone or cell phone (these can ignite airborne gases);
Turn on or off any electrical switches (these also can ignite airborne gases);
Drive into a leak or vapor cloud area.