Pipeline Safety Information
Millions of miles of pipelines are used to move energy resources from areas of production to consumers. Pipelines are the most efficient and economical method of transporting our nation's energy resources and are also considered the among the safest. It is important for all residents to be aware of pipeline safety and understand the best ways to protect property and lives.
Pipeline industry resources are also available:
- Pipeline 101
- Pipeline Association for Public Awareness
- Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
If an emergency occurs at or near a production area, call 911. Do not enter the area or attempt to provide help.
Call Before You Dig
Even installing a mail box, privacy fence, flagpole or storage building could pose a hazard within the right-of-way. Before you dig, drill, blast or move any earth near a pipeline, contact your local one-call center by dialing 811. This call and service is provided at no charge to you and is required by law.
Steps to Digging Safely
- Contact your state's one-call center by dialing 811 at least 48 hours (not including weekends or holidays) before you want to dig.
- Wait for facility owners to mark their underground facilities using paint, flags and/or stakes.
- Confirm that all facilities have been marked. If you know or believe facilities have not been properly marked, you must make another call to the one-call center before beginning any excavation work.
- Use caution near underground facilities. Obey safe excavating practices and state laws.
If you damage a pipeline while excavating, call 911. While the damage could only appear minor, a gouge, scrape, dent or crease to the pipe or coating could harm the integrity of the pipeline and cause a future break or leak.
In Texas, any person planning to excavate must follow requirements found in Chapter 18 of the Railroad Commission Rules.
Pipelines are buried in areas called rights-of-way. Pipeline markers are used to designate the general route of the pipeline. Markers can also be found where a pipeline crosses a street or railroad, emerges from the earth, or in waterways. Be aware: pipeline markers will not designate the exact location, depth or number of pipelines in the area.
Markers come in different shapes and sizes, but will always:
- identify material being transported and the existence of the right-of-way
- have the word "warning," "danger" or "caution" in highly visible, bright colors
- provide a number to reach the company in the event of an emergency 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- provide the name of the pipeline company
Leak Recognition and Response
Because of the extensive measures taken by pipeline companies to prevent pipeline leaks, accidents are rare. The most frequent causes of pipeline failures are third-party excavation and corrosion.
The consequences of a pipeline incident will vary depending on the product being transported, the amount of the product lost and the area in which the accident occurs.
It is important for you to be able to recognize the signs of a potential pipeline incident and know how to respond. Use your senses to recognize a potential pipeline emergency:
Do you see
- persistent bubbling in standing water
- discolored vegetation
- a dense cloud or fog
- slight mist of ice
- unexplained frozen ground near a pipeline
- fire or explosion
Do you smell
- strange or unusual odor similar to petrochemicals or rotten eggs
Do you hear
- unusual noises or a hissing or roaring sound
Actions to take if you suspect a pipeline leak or rupture
- Abandon any equipment in its current operational state.
- Leave the area on foot immediately.
- Move in an upwind/crosswind direction away from the incident.
- Once in a safe place, call 911 and the pipeline operator.
- Warn others to stay away.
Do not do any of the following:
- create any sources of ignition, such as heat or sparks
- start a car, turn off any switches or light a cigarette
- attempt to turn any pipeline valves
- use a phone or cell phone while near the suspected leak
- walk or drive into or near a vapor cloud
- touch the escaping liquid or gas
- attempt to extinguish or control a fire