Pipelines are a critical component of our nation’s energy infrastructure and serve as the underground highways that transport energy across the delivering energy that consumers use for heating, cooking and various other uses in everyday life. According to The U.S. department of Transportation, pipelines are the safest and most efficient means of transporting natural gas products. Through a relatively invisible, interconnected system of underground pipelines, natural gas is quietly, reliably and efficiently delivered throughout the United States.
Pipeline companies, such as Midcoast Energy, follow strict regulations and standards to ensure pipeline safety. Our pipelines are regulated by the U. S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and various state agencies including the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), which establish rules and standards governing the design, construction, operation, safety and maintenance of pipelines.
To enhance the safety of our system and for the people that live near our facilities, Midcoast monitors its pipeline operations 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Midcoast invests significant time and capital maintaining the safety and integrity of our pipeline systems. Our Integrity practices include corrosion protection, routine inspection, maintenance and testing programs, regularly patrolling and maintaining our rights-of-way, risk analysis and other methods as needed to keep our natural gas and liquid pipelines and facilities safe for service at all times.
We are dedicated to maintaining the highest safety standards for both the public and our employees and are committed to protecting the environment. Maintaining a safe pipeline system requires the public’s participation in cooperation with Midcoast which is why we place a strong emphasis on increasing public awareness and knowledge through our comprehensive Public Awareness Program.
The largest cause of pipeline or other underground utility damage is from excavators or individuals striking these assets without first having them properly marked. Safety is everyone’s responsibility, and maintaining a safe pipeline system requires the public’s participation. You can help keep your community safe by knowing where pipelines are located, by utilizing your state’s One-Call system prior to digging, and by recognizing and reporting unauthorized activities or abnormal conditions. In every state, any excavator or individual, whether landscaping, building fences, installing mail boxes, or commencing a major construction project, must make a call to a state One-Call center prior to beginning any excavation activities. It’s safe, it’s free and it’s the law.
Pipeline rights-of-way (ROW) protect the public and the pipeline. The ROW allows our workers to access facilities for inspection, maintenance, testing or emergency situations; therefore, the ROW must be kept clear of any buildings, structures, excess vegetation or other encroachments that may restrict access to the pipeline.
State laws require you to maintain a minimum clearance, or tolerance zone, on either side of the pipeline, between the point of excavation and a marked pipeline. Check with your state One-Call Center for tolerance zone requirements in your state.
If you cause or witness even minor damage to a pipeline or its protective coating, please immediately notify the pipeline company. Even a small disturbance to a pipeline may cause a future leak. A gouge, scrape, dent or crease is cause enough for the company to inspect the damage and make repairs.
For information on Recognizing and Responding to Pipeline Leaks refer to the Emergency Information section. Additional safety and public awareness information can also be found in Midcoast’s Public Awareness Brochures (below)
In case of a pipeline emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency response number and the Midcoast 24-hour emergency number found in the Emergency Contact Information section.
It’s SAFE. It’s FREE. It’s the LAW!
Calling 811 before digging on your property is your responsibility and it’s the law. Maintaining a safe pipeline system requires the public’s participation. In fact, most serious damage done to pipelines is done when a third party inadvertently excavates, blasts or drills within a pipeline right-of-way (ROW). Because even relatively minor excavation activities like landscaping or fencing can cause damage to a pipeline, its protective coating and/or buried utility lines, always contact your state One-Call Center before engaging in any excavation, construction, farming or digging – It’s SAFE. It’s FREE. It’s the LAW.
One easy FREE phone call to 811 starts the process to get your underground pipelines and utility lines marked. Most states require 48 hours notice to the One-Call Center to allow the utility operators to mark their pipelines and utilities at your proposed digging site. 811 can be called from anywhere in the country and will automatically be routed to your local One-Call Center. You will provide the operator information such as how to contact you, where you are planning to dig and what type of work you will be doing. Utility companies who have potential facilities in the area of your dig site will be notified, and they will send a locator free of charge. Once your underground lines have been marked for your project, you will know the approximate location of your pipelines and utility lines, and can dig safely. More information regarding 811 can be found at www.call811.com.
Texas requires at least 2 working days, but not more than 14 days advance notice of a digging project. Marks are valid for 14 days. Refer to Texas Utilities Code Title 5, Chapter 251, commonly known as the “One-Call-Law” and to Texas Administrative Code Title 16, Part 1, Chapter 18 for the full regulations.
Most pipelines are underground, where they are more protected from the elements and minimize interference with surface uses. For your safety, pipeline rights-of-way (ROW) are clearly identified by pipeline markers, similar to the ones illustrated here, along pipeline routes that identify the approximate – NOT EXACT – location of the pipeline. It also contains Midcoast Company information, type of product transported and the emergency contact number. Not all pipelines run straight, so while markers are useful in locating the general area of a pipeline, they do not provide the exact location or other information such as the depth of the pipeline or number of pipelines within the ROW. It is a federal crime for any person to willfully deface, damage, remove or destroy any pipeline signs or ROW marker. Pipeline markers must not be used to identify exact locations of pipelines or as a substitute for contacting the appropriate One-Call Center prior to excavation activities. The only way to ensure the location of a pipeline is to “Call Before You Dig.”
The National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) is a geographic information system created by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in cooperation with other federal and state governmental agencies and the pipeline industry to provide information about pipeline operators and their pipelines. To find who operates transmission pipelines in your area, visit NPMS – available online at www.npms.phmsa.dot.gov. NPMS provides a Public Map Viewer designed to assist the general public with displaying and querying data related to gas transmission and hazardous liquid pipelines, liquefied natural gas plants, and breakout tanks under Department of Transportation (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) jurisdiction. The Public Map Viewer must not be used to identify exact locations of pipelines or as a substitute for contacting the appropriate One Call system prior to excavation activities.