Pipeline operators prepare for the unlikely event of an incident through control room technologies, drills and training.
Members of the public living or working near a pipeline play a critical role in protecting our nation’s critical energy infrastructure network.
Calling 811 to request that underground utility owners mark the location of underground lines prior to digging is the only way to determine the true location of buried utilities like pipelines. Calling 811 before excavating reduces the risk of causing damage to less than one percent. Even after the area has been marked, any digging around the marks should be carefully conducted.
Next, pipeline operators also partner with farmers and agricultural groups on safe digging best practices when using heavy excavation equipment.
- Call before you dig
- Be aware of temporary markers/flags
- Don’t remove pipeline markers
- Report suspicious behavior or unauthorized excavation to local law enforcement
- Get to know your pipeline operator
While permanent pipeline markers are located at roads, railways, and other intervals along the right-of-way, these show only the approximate location of the buried pipelines. The depth and location of the pipelines vary within the right-of-way. The right-of-way exists in many kinds of terrain, from river crossings and cultivated fields to urban areas. Because of this, there is no distinct “look” to the right-of-way.
Some people mistakenly believe that they don’t need to call 811 because they think they can tell the precise location of a pipeline by drawing a straight line between right-of-way marker signs. People should still call 811 because:
Pipeline operators have multiple ways to detect leaks, from computer-based leak detection systems to regular patrols of the pipeline right-of-way, whether through regular aerial surveillance by airplane, helicopter or unmanned aerial system. However, pipeline incidents, while rare, do still happen. The best way for you to detect a spill in your neighborhood is to use your senses of sight, smell and sound.
A leak may have occurred if you:
If you have detected signs that a leak may have occurred, you should take the following actions:
Learn more about how operators and local first responders prepare for and respond in the unlikely event of a pipeline incident.