Frequently Asked Questions

Where are pipelines located?

Virtually everyone in Montana lives or works near a pipeline.  Underground pipelines crisscross our neighborhoods, community and state safely transporting energy products to our homes and businesses every day.  Read more about how to find pipelines near your home or in your community using permanent signs, temporary markings and pipeline maps.

What should I know about the pipelines near my home?

Pipelines are the safest way to transport energy products and serious problems are rare.  However, if you live near a pipeline or have pipelines connected to gas appliances in your home, it is important that you are ready to quickly respond if there is a pipeline leak or rupture.  Be proactive and know where pipelines are located in relation to your home and how to recognize a pipeline a leak and appropriately respond.  Click here to learn how to find pipelines near your home and how to recognize and respond to a pipeline leak.

When should I contact the pipeline company?

Residents and businesses located near pipelines should contact the pipeline operator any time they have questions or concerns. If you suspect a problem with the pipeline, leave the area and call 911 and the pipeline company only when you are a safe distance away. If you notice someone digging near a pipeline and the pipeline’s location isn’t clearly marked with temporary markings such as yellow flags or paint, call the pipeline operator or 911.

Farmers and ranchers must contact 811 and in some cases the pipeline operator before starting any deep excavation activity or installing or replacing fencing or drain tiles on your property.  Refer to MLGPA’s member directory for a list of members in your county and their emergency contact numbers.  Emergency contact numbers are also listed on pipeline markers.

Are pipelines safe?

Yes, pipelines are the safest way to transport energy products.  The US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Montana Public Utility Commission regulate pipelines in Montana.  According to government and industry statistics, improper or unauthorized digging near a pipeline is the most common cause of serious pipeline incidents. Calling 811 before digging on your property or near a pipeline right-of-way is required by law and  protects pipelines and the safety of others.

Read more about pipeline safety statistics in Montana, what operators do to keep pipelines safe and what you can do to help protect pipelines in your community.

Who do I call to locate the pipeline or facilities on my property?

Montana law require homeowners, farmers, ranchers and professional excavators to call 811 or their local One-Call center at least two working days prior to digging 18 inches or deeper.  When you dial 811, a local One-Call center representative will notify pipeline operators regarding your excavation project.  Operators will come out to locate and mark the location of their lines.  Depending on the specifics of your project, the pipeline operator may elect to be onsite while you are digging.

Once lines are located, respect the marks, and dig with care.  Don’t forget to call a local professional to locate any customer-owned lines that are excluded from the One-Call process.  For more information regarding the One-Call process, temporary markings and customer-owned lines refer to “Find Pipelines Near You.” Read the details of Montana’s damage prevention law.

What information can I find on pipeline marker signs?

Operators of gathering pipelines and natural gas transmission and hazardous liquids lines place permanent signs, called pipeline markers, along their pipeline routes, at roadways and railway crossings and at aboveground facilities to identify the general location of pipelines.   Pipelines maintained by your local gas company typically do not have permanent pipeline markers.

Markers can vary in size, shape and color, but all markers include important information about the pipeline including the product transported, the pipeline operator’s name and the operator’s emergency contact number to report pipeline problems.  Line markers do not indicate the depth of the line, the number of lines in the area or the exact location of a pipeline.

Pipeline markers are important safety signs.  It is a federal crime to willfully deface, damage, remove or destroy a pipeline marker.  If you notice a damaged marker, or accidentally damage a marker, please contact the pipeline operator.  See examples of different marker shapes.

Who regulates the pipelines near me?

The US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Montana Public Utility Commission regulate pipelines in Montana.

What is a pipeline right-of-way?

A pipeline right-of-way usually includes the land above the pipeline and approximately 25 feet on each side.  Rights-of-way are typically cleared of trees, shrubs and structures to protect the pipeline and provide access for operators to conduct inspections and maintenance procedures.

If you have a pipeline easement on your property, review the details of your agreement and talk with the pipeline operator before planting, digging or building near the right-of-way.

Can I call 811 over the weekend?

Montana law requires that you call 811 or your local One-Call center at least two business days before excavating.  If you call One-Call over the weekend, you may or may not be able to submit your request depending on the individual center.  Professional excavators can also submit requests online or by fax.  Contact your local One-Call center for more details.

While digging, I hit a pipeline or facility, what do I do now?

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.  If the pipeline is leaking, leave the area immediately in an upwind direction, warn others to stay away and avoid using any electrical equipment or electronic devices near the leak. Call 911 and the pipeline operator from a safe location.

How should I prepare in case of a pipeline emergency?

You can prepare for a pipeline emergency by knowing where the pipelines are located near your home or business.  Review the signs of a pipeline leak and the appropriate response actions including the pipeline operator’s emergency contact number.  Keep the phone number in an accessible place with other important phone numbers.  Click here to learn how to find pipelines near your home and how to recognize and respond to a pipeline leak.  Explore to download a sample family safety plan.