Commodities Transported and Hazards Posed

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The chart below highlights the purpose, characteristics and the particular potential hazard(s) posed by products transported via pipeline.  These products, along with several other materials, can pose a variety of hazards to the environment, as well as to your health, if improperly released.

More extensive information on emergency preparedness can be found by visiting the Government & Emergency Officials section of our Web site.  Procedures that are key to remember when responding to an emergency are also highlighted.

There are four critical steps that must be followed when addressing a pipeline emergency:

  1. Assess the situation
  2. Protect the public
  3. Contact the operator
  4. Work together

A proper response can only be accomplished by being fully-informed and coordinating with the pipeline operator.

Product Appearance Characteristics Hazard(s)
Natural Gas Natural gas is usually colorless and odorless and is neither toxic nor poisonous.

Natural gas does not emit a smell similar to a recently lit match or rotten eggs until an odorant is added.

Form: Natural gas typically remains a gas whether or under pressure or not.

Vapors: Natural gas is lighter than air.

Natural gas is flammable and can ignite when it comes into contact with a spark or flame.  Exposure can cause asphyxiation.  Natural gas can contain hydrogen sulfide, which is toxic.
Crude Oil & Refined Products, including gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil Crude oil occurs in a liquid form ranging from a water-like substance to a very thick tar and ranges from amber to black in color.  Colors are added to refined products at the distribution point to make each type of product distinct. Form: Liquid

Vapors: Vapors from crude oil are heavier than air.

Crude oil is combustible.  Exposure can cause moderate irritation, including headaches and dizziness.  Crude oil can also contain hydrogen sulfide, which is toxic.
Highly Volatile Liquids (HVLs), including Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs) and Liquid Petroleum Gases (LPGs) HVLs are odorless, tasteless and colorless.  Vapors can travel long distances and will form vapor clouds in low-lying areas. Form: HVLs are transported in liquid form.  If released, HVLs will change into a gaseous form.

Vapors: Vapors from HVLs are heavier than air.

HVLs are extremely flammable.  A person who inhales HVLs may experience drowsiness or suffer from asphyxiation.

Direct contact with HVLs can result in burn or frostbite-like symptoms.