How to Know Whether There May be a Pipeline Emergency & What to Do

A pipeline easement/rights of way may be on your property or near your home. Occasionally, people ask, how do we know if there is a problem with the pipeline?

In the drilling areas, gathering pipelines flow natural gas from the well to a transmission pipeline. Gathering lines, generally non-regulated Class 1 Areas are crossing our region near our homes and schools. (Gathering lines within 220 yards of a school are regulated gathering lines). Gathering lines are considered large diameter, high pressure pipelines. The diameter of gathering pipelines ranges from 6″ to as much as 30″-36″. Pressure on natural gas gathering lines may exceed 1000 psi. Only a very small percentage of gathering pipelines are odorized, so don’t expect the gathering pipeline near your area of concern to be odorized.

Interstate commerce transmission pipelines flow natural gas through and from our area to surrounding states and beyond.Generally, transmission lines are only odorized in suburban/urban settings, so don’t expect the transmission line near your area of concern to be odorized.

Natural gas distribution pipelines in several of the Northern Tier counties. Hazardous liquid pipelines in our Region transport a variety of petroleum related products.

9349075_BG1  GRADY CO OK 2008 GL 8x10

Gathering Line failure, Grady County


Pipeline Explosion Sissonville, WV

What is Odorization?

The odorization is added for security purposes. Noticing a strong stinky odor similar to rotten eggs, reminiscent of your gas stove or gas grill, may be the odorant mercaptan. When pipelines have odorant, should there be a gas leak, you may notice this odor.

Be Observant, What to Notice

Even if the pipeline in your area of concern is not odorized, there are still warning signs that a release may be occurring.

Natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines may exhibit warning signs, and your senses, sight, smell, sound may help you take notice.

 Use Your Senses



  • Discolored or dead vegetation
  • Flames coming out of the ground
  • A cloud of vapor, fog, or mist
  • A pool of liquid on the ground or bubbling in a wet, flooded area
  • Dirt blowing in the air
  • A rainbow or sheen on the water

  • An unusual odor or scent of gas or petroleum – remember, natural gas in our region is generally odorless in gathering and transmission lines until the odorant, mercaptan is added.


 I’ve Noticed a Problem, Now What?



  • Turn off and abandon any motorized equipment.
  • Evacuate the area quickly and cautiously walking into the wind, away from potentially hazardous fumes.
  • Warn others to clear the area.
  • Call 9-1-1 once you have reached a safe location. Always call 9-1-1, there are numerous pipelines in our region and the operators do change. Your 9-1-1 is going to be the quickest call as they will immediately know who to contact and will also trigger response by your local fire company. Always call 9-1-1 in the case of a pipeline emergency.
  • Follow instructions provided to you to promptly evacuate if necessary.

WHAT NOT TO DO – If you observe a release

  • Do not touch, inhale, or make contact with leaking liquids or gas.
  • Do not use open flames, or anything that could ignite a spark (cigarette, cell phone, flashlights, moto vehicles, tools, etc).
  • Do not attempt to extinguish a natural gas fire.
  • Do not attempt to operate pipeline valves.

Have questions or would you like to learn more?