Know the Possible Hazards

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Products and Facilities

Natural Gas – Natural gas is the predominant product found in gas distribution pipelines, and with few exceptions, is transported via pipelines in its gaseous form. Like crude oil, it is a naturally occurring resource formed millions of years ago as a result of heat and pressure acting on decayed organic material. It is extracted from wells and transported through gathering pipelines to processing facilities. From these facilities it is transported through transmission pipelines to distribution centers or distribution pipeline systems. The main ingredient in natural gas is methane (94%). Natural gas is odorless, colorless, tasteless and nontoxic in its natural state. When transported via transmission pipelines, natural gas typically does not have odorant added. An odorant (called Mercaptain) is added when it is delivered to a distribution system. At ambient temperatures it remains a lighter than air gas; however, it can be compressed (CNG) under high pressure to make it convenient for use in other applications or liquefied (LNG) under extremely cold temperatures (-260° F) to facilitate transportation.

Petroleum Gas – Petroleum gas is a mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons, primarily propane and butane and their isomers, such as ethane, which are easily liquefied under pressure and are used for residential and commercial heating, autopropane, industrial fuel applications. Propane and butane are often stored and transported under pressure as liquid (LPG) in portable containers for use as fuel for heating and cooking applications. LPG is usually transported through hazardous liquid transmission pipelines; however, vaporized propane and butane pipelines may also be found in small distribution systems. LPG is a tasteless, colorless and odorless gas and when transported via transmission pipelines typically will not have odorant added. An odorant is added when LPG is offloaded to a distribution system or transport tanks to permit detection of vapor leakage.

Petroleum Liquids – Petroleum liquids is a broad term covering many products, including: crude oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, aviation gasoline, jet fuel, fuel oil, kerosene, natural gas liquids, naphtha, xylene and other refined products. Crude oil is unrefined petroleum that is extracted from beneath the earth’s surface through wells. As it comes from the well, crude oil contains a mixture of oil, gas, water and other impurities, such as metallic compounds and sulfur. Refinement of crude oil produces petroleum products that we use every day, such as motor oils and gasoline. Crude oil is normally transported from wells to refineries through gathering pipelines. Refined petroleum products are normally transported in transmission pipelines to rail or truck terminals for distribution to consumers. Odorant is not added to these products because they have a natural odor.

Anhydrous Ammonia – Anhydrous ammonia is the liquefied form of pure ammonia gas. It is a colorless gas or liquid with an extremely pungent odor. It is normally transported through transmission pipelines located in the Midwest and is used primarily as an agricultural fertilizer or industrial refrigerant.

Carbon Dioxide – Carbon dioxide is a heavy gas that is normally transported in transmission pipelines as a compressed fluid. It is a naturally occurring colorless, odorless and tasteless gas used in the petroleum industry. Under normal conditions carbon dioxide is stable, inert and nontoxic.

Ethanol – Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, is a colorless liquid that is widely used as an additive to automotive gasoline. It may be transported in buried transmission pipelines.

“Sour” Crude Oil and “Sour” Natural Gas – Products containing little or no sulfur are often referred to as “sweet,” whereas, products containing high concentrations of sulfur and hydrogen sulfide are commonly referred to as “sour.” Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a toxic, corrosive contaminant found in natural gas and crude oil. Hydrogen sulfide has an odor like the smell of rotten eggs. Exposure to relatively low levels of hydrogen sulfide (500 ppm) can be fatal.

Odorized Natural Gas Un-odorized Natual Gas Petroleum Liquids Petroleum Gas Anhydrous Ammonia Carbon Dioxide Ethanol Sour Natural Gas (H2S) Sour Crude Oil (H2S) Liquids & Odorized Natural Gas
An odor like rotten eggs or a burnt match
A loud roaring sound like a jet engine
A white vapor cloud that may look like smoke
A hissing or whistling noise
The pooling of liquid on the ground
An odor like petroleum liquids or gasoline
Fire coming out of or on top of the ground
Dirt blowing from a hole in the ground
A sheen on the surface of water
An area of frozen ground in the summer
An unusual area of melted snow in the winter
An area of dead vegetation
Bubbling in pools of water
An irritating and pungent odor
Highly flammable and easily ignited by heat or sparks
Will displace oxygen and can cause asphyxiation
Vapors are heavier than air and will collect in low areas
Contact with skin may cause burns, injury, or frostbite
Initial odor may be irritating and deaden the sense of smell
Toxic and may be fatal if inhaled or absorbed through skin
Vapors are extremely irritating and corrosive
Fire may produce irritating and/or toxic gases
Runoff may cause pollution
Vapors may form an explosive mixture with air
Vapors may cause dizziness or asphyxiation without warning
Avoid any action that may create a spark
Do NOT start vehicles, switch lights, or hang up phones
Evacuate the area on foot in an upwind and uphill direction
Alert others to evacuate the area and keep people away
From a safe location, call 911 to report the emergency
Call the pipeline operator and report the event
Wait for emergency responders to arrive
Do NOT attempt to close any pipeline valves
Take shelter inside a building and close all windows