Recognizing a Natural Gas Pipeline Emergency

For your safety, markers are used to show the approximate location of pipelines and identify the companies that operate them. You should be aware of any pipeline markers in and around your neighborhood. Write down the name and phone numbers of the pipeline company that is listed on the markers and call in case of an emergency.

An important way you can keep the pipeline in your area safe is by notifying the operator if you detect a problem.

Because natural gas is non-toxic and lighter than air, it typically dissipates into the atmosphere. However, natural gas will burn if mixed with the right amount of oxygen and then ignited by a spark.

If you sense any of the following emergencies on or near pipeline rights of way or above-ground facilities, leave the area immediately and report it as soon as possible:

  1. Gas escaping from a pipeline. This may be detected in any of several ways:

    (a) SOUND: Leaks may be accompanied by a loud, high-pitched whistle or roar. If you hear such a sound in the vicinity of a pipeline, leave immediately and call the pipeline operator.

    (b) SIGHT: Natural gas is transported in a very dry condition and will remove the moisture from the soil in the vicinity of a leak. A patch of discolored soil, dead vegetation, bubbling water or frozen ground when the weather is warm along the pipeline should be reported immediately.

    (c) SMELL: Natural gas is odorless; however, local distribution companies that provide gas to communities add an odorant to the gas. If you smell a distinctive, repugnant odor along the pipeline, please report it.

  2. Fire located near or directly involving a pipeline right of way or other pipeline facility.
  3. Explosion occurring near or directly involving any pipeline facilities.
  4. Natural disasters (earthquake, washout, lightning, etc.) directly involving pipeline facilities.
  5. Any digging or construction on a pipeline right of way in the absence of pipeline company personnel.
  6. Any other damage that might signify a hazardous condition.