Recognize & Respond to Pipeline Damage

Pipeline leaks can be dangerous.  A damaged pipeline may release flammable chemicals into the soil or the air that can be harmful to people and the environment.  It is important that you know how to quickly recognize and respond to a potential pipeline emergency.

Signs of a Pipeline Leak

Use your sense of smell, sight and sound to identify a potential pipeline leak.  Signs of a leak include:

  • Strong petroleum scent or other pungent odor
  • Smell similar to “sulfur” or “rotten eggs” if odorant is added
  • Dead or dying vegetation near the pipeline
  • Liquid or fire on the ground near the pipeline
  • Dirt or debris blowing into the air near the pipeline
  • A dense white cloud or fog
  • Frost build-up on ground near the pipeline
  • Hissing, gurgling or roaring sound

Energy products transported in pipelines can be odorless.  It is important to use your sense of sight and sound, as well as smell, to identify a potential leak.

Respond to Pipeline Damage

If you suspect a pipeline leak or rupture, your primary concern should be for your safety and the safety of others.

  • Avoid all potential ignition sources.  Turn off equipment only when it is safe to do so.  Avoid the use of cell phones and other electrical equipment.
  • Leave the area immediately, by foot, in an upwind direction and direct others to do so too.
  • Once you are a safe distance from the pipeline, call 911 and the pipeline operator using the emergency number listed on a nearby pipeline marker.

Wait for local emergency responders and trained pipeline or utility representatives to arrive.  Stay a safe distance away from the pipeline.  Do not attempt to operate pipeline valves.  Avoid contact with escaping liquids or gas.

Immediately Report Scrapes, Dents or Damage to Pipeline Coatings

Contact the pipeline operator immediately if you hit, dent, scrape or damage a pipeline.  Even small scrapes, dents or nicks in the protective coating need to be assessed to prevent future problems.