Released by Diana Parker with Parker/Wright, LLC:
DALLAS, TX - There are more than 225,000 miles of pipelines in Texas, crisscrossing our yards, roads, neighborhoods, communities and counties. They connect to gas appliances in our homes and are located around our homes and businesses in underground corridors, called pipeline right-of-ways.
Because most of a pipeline system is underground and out of sight, they are marked with signs called pipeline markers. These signs are placed at regular intervals and mark the general, but not exact, location of a pipeline.
Pipeline companies carefully build and maintain their pipelines and monitor their operations around-the-clock.
These companies patrol their lines by plane and on foot and regularly trim trees and remove shrubs or structures that are too close to the right-of-way and can impact public safety. Pipelines are safe and serious pipeline problems are rare, and in many cases, preventable. But if a problem does occur it is important to know what to do and who to call. If you need to dig in or near a pipeline right-of-way you need to call first to have the pipeline company mark the line, at no charge to you. If you think you have accidentally hit a pipeline while digging, even if it appears not to be broken or leaking, you need to call the pipeline company. If you think you see, hear or smell a pipeline leak you need to leave the area immediately and call 9-1-1.
What do these pipelines do and what is in them?
Pipelines invisibly contribute to the quality of our daily lives. They very efficiently, safely and cost effectively gather natural gas from remote areas of production and transport it directly into your home where it is used for water and space heating, cooking and other purposes. Pipelines also deliver natural gas and oil directly to electric generation plants that are used to produce electricity to light your home and power your household appliances.
Other pipelines move crude oil from production areas to refineries and take refined products like gasoline and diesel to distribution centers to be trucked to your local gas stations for use in your cars and trucks. Other petroleum products are also commonly transported in pipelines from production facilities to distribution centers.
Why is it important for Texans to be aware of pipelines and pipeline right-of-ways?
Since pipelines are buried, they are silent and invisible. Because of this, pipeline companies place signs known as pipeline markers with information identifying the type of pipeline, their approximate location and emergency contact numbers. These corridors, known as pipeline rights-of-ways, are identified with these pipeline markers.
In many cities these right-of-ways are commonly used as greenbelts and contain hike and bike paths and trails. Always be aware of these rights-of-ways and pipeline markers. No excavation should ever take place on marked pipeline right-of-ways without first calling 8-1-1.
Anyone that is digging or in any way excavating should first call 8-1-1 and allow two days to have the pipelines and other utilities located and marked to avoid hitting them.
What is the main cause of pipeline leaks and damage?
Digging is the most common source of serious pipeline damage and breaks. Remember to always call 8-1-1 before digging for any reason, whether is it to plant a tree, build a fence or construct an out-building. Then allow two days to have the lines marked. It's the law in Texas.
Pipeline operators design and operate pipelines to meet strict federal and state safety requirements. They are inspected by air and on foot frequently and it is important for the public to know where these pipelines are located and what to do and who to call before digging.
What should an individual do if they accidentally hit a pipeline while digging?
Even if the pipeline does not appear broken or leaking after it is hit, immediately report the accident to the pipeline company so that the damage can be inspected and repaired if needed. A scratch, scrap or ding of a pipeline, if not promptly repaired, could result in a future leak or emergency.
Digging in right-of-ways and hitting pipelines is the most common source of serious pipeline damage. You can stay safe by calling 8-1-1 before you dig. Remember, it’s the law in Texas. If the pipeline is breeched or ruptured or appears cut in any way, leave the area immediately and call 9-1-1 and the pipeline company.
What should an individual do if they smell, hear or see a natural gas leak?
Leave the area immediately and, if possible, move upwind of the leak. If the leak is inside, move outside. Do not turn on or off electrical devices, appliances or switches or start an engine, a car or truck, or light a cigarette or cigar. These are all sources of possible ignition. After finding a secure place, call the local natural gas or pipeline company.
Are there other things that Texans should understand about pipelines?
Yes; even though pipelines are the safest, most cost effective and environmentally friendly way to move natural gas and petroleum products, occasionally those pipelines leak. Natural gas is naturally odorless so pipeline operators odorize it to have a distinct smell, like a rotten egg or sulfur. If you smell that smell, leave the area and call the pipeline company immediately.
In some cases, the natural gas may not have a smell but a leak may be visible nonetheless with blowing dirt or debris or hissing sounds or a roaring noise. Along pipeline rights-of-ways the grass or vegetation may be dead or have turned brown which might indicate a pipeline leak that should be reported to the pipeline or local natural gas company immediately.
What about pipelines other than natural gas?
In the case of an oil, gasoline, diesel and other petroleum product leak, you might see bubbling earth, pooling liquids or a gas or liquid actually spurting out of the ground. In any of these cases, you should leave the area immediately and call 9-1-1 and the pipeline company.
Does the TPAA have a website where I can learn more?
Yes. It is: www.Pipeline-Safety.org.
About the Texas Pipeline Awareness Alliance (TPAA):
The Texas Pipeline Awareness Alliance (TPAA) is a group of pipeline companies with operations in Texas. The TPAA was formed in 2006 to increase public awareness and knowledge about pipelines and pipeline safety throughout the state. The TPAA uses television, radio, magazines, newspapers and the Internet (www.Pipeline-Safety.org) to inform the public about what to look for and what to do in the event of a pipeline leak as well as how to recognize a pipeline right-of-way and what to do and who to call before digging in or near a right-of-way.
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