Pipeline Emergencies


What to look for when a pipeline leaks crude oil, natural gas or natural gas liquids

  • Dirt being blown or appearing to be thrown into the air
  • A white vapor stream or mist-like cloud over the pipeline
  • Unexpected frost or ice on the ground
  • Continuous bubbling in wet or flooded areas
  • Dead or dying vegetation in an otherwise green area
  • Discolored snow or vegetation
  • A dry area in a wet field
  • Flames coming from the ground or appearing to burn above ground
  • Liquid on the ground
  • Oily sheen on water surfaces
  • Roaring
  • Blowing
  • Hissing
  • Strange skunk-like odor
  • Rotten egg odor


First Steps
  1. Stop work immediately and move as far away from the leak as possible (upwind, if possible)
  2. Avoid contact with escaping liquids and gases
  3. Call 911
  4. Follow instructions provided to you by Midcoast Energy and local emergency responders
When the location of the pipeline leak is unknown
  • Immediately go indoors and close and lock all windows and outside doors
  • If you are operating equipment or a motorized vehicle, turn the engine off and immediately go indoors
  • Turn off appliances or equipment that circulate air such as exhaust fans, gas fireplaces, gas stoves, heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • Turn down furnace thermostats to the minimum setting and turn off air conditioners
  • Leave open all inside doors
  • Avoid using the telephone, except for emergencies, so that you can be contacted by emergency response personnel
  • Stay tuned to local radio and television (battery-operated) for possible information updates
  • Even if you see people outside, do not leave until told to do so
  • Touch any liquid or vapor could that may have come from the pipeline
  • Drive into the area or start your car
  • Light a match
  • Turn on or off anything that may create a spark, including cell phones, telephones, light switches, vehicle alarms and flashlights
  • Operate pipeline valves
Final Steps
  • ME personnel may shut down or isolate sections of the pipeline or facility
  • ME and local emergency responders will work as a team to control the situation
  • ME will work with applicable agencies to remediate any impact caused by the leak



Given our thorough maintenance, testing, training, monitoring and safety programs, pipeline leaks are rare. Prevention and public safety are our first priorities. We have an extensive preventative program to promote the safe, reliable operations of our pipelines and related facilities.

Local fire departments, law enforcement and ambulance services are kept informed of our systems and transportation products. To further educate local emergency responders and employees, we conduct regular training exercises and emergency drills.

Landowners and neighbors help reduce the potential for an emergency by observing right-of-way safety precautions.

Our Preventative Measures
  • High-quality pipeline materials and anti-corrosion coatings
  • Cathodic protection (a low-level electrical charge) to inhibit corrosion of underground pipelines
  • Pressure testing of new and existing pipelines
  • Inspection programs to locate pipeline features
  • Preventive maintenance programs
  • Monitoring of pipelines and related facilities
  • Frequent aerial and periodic ground surveys of the rights-of-way
  • Extensive employee training programs
  • Proactive public education and community outreach programs
In the unlikely event of an emergency, we will act swiftly to:
  • Protect the public
  • Conduct a prompt, safe and thorough repair in close cooperation with regulatory authorities
  • Mitigate any environmental and property damages