Pipeline Safety

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If you live or work near a pipeline:

How can you tell where a pipeline is located?

Since pipelines are buried underground, line markers are used to indicate their approximate location along the route. The markers can be found where a pipeline intersects a street, highway or railroad. Markers display the material transported in the line, the name of the pipeline operator, and a telephone number where the operator can be reached in the event of an emergency.

It is a federal crime to remove or deface a pipeline marker sign.

Pipeline marker signs are important to public safety. They are so important, in fact, that Congress in 1988 passed a law making it a federal crime for any person to willfully deface, damage, remove, or destroy any pipeline sign right-of-way marker that is required by federal law. The penalty for each offense is a fine of up to $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than a year or both.

Are markers always placed on top of the pipeline?

Markers indicate the general location of a pipeline. They cannot be relied upon to indicate the exact position of the pipeline they mark. Also, the pipeline may not follow a straight course between markers. While markers are helpful in locating pipelines, they are limited in the information they provide. They do not provide information, for example, on the depth or number of pipelines in the vicinity.

How can you recognize a pipeline leak?

Sight, sound, and smell are helpful in detecting pipeline leaks.

Look for:

  • Crude oil or liquid petroleum products on the ground
  • A dense white cloud or fog
  • A spot of dead vegetation in an otherwise green location (may indicate a slow leak)
  • Flames (if the leak has ignited), DO NOT attempt to extinguish any primary fire source until pipeline company employees arrive and their representative directs this action.

Listen for:

  • A roaring sound
  • A hissing sound

Smell for:

  • A pungent odor, sometimes like "rotten eggs"
  • A gasoline-like odor

What you should do if you suspect a leak:

Your first concern should be for your personal safety and that of those around you.

  • Leave the leak area immediately
  • Avoid driving into vapor clouds
  • Contact the Sheriff's Office at (620) 364-2123 or 800-362-0638.