As a public official, you can do your part by promoting safe digging throughout your community. By law, individuals must contact Miss Utility at 811 or 1-866-821-4226, at least 48 hours (Maryland and Washington D.C.) or two full working days (Delaware) prior to any digging, ditching, drilling, leveling or plowing activity. Representatives from the appropriate utility companies will then come to the location and underground utility lines with brightly colored, highly visible markers, free of charge.
If you ever suspect unauthorized digging, contact the gas company listed on the nearest pipeline marker. If no company is listed, call 911.
Encroachment and gas pipelines
In recent years, unauthorized digging has become an even greater safety threat due to encroachment. While most transmission pipelines (large pipelines that transport gas across state lines, or even across the country) are buried in rural, undeveloped areas, the growing population and booming economy have prompted more construction activity in and around these areas. To protect the safety of residents and the environment, the land surrounding a transmission pipeline, also referred to as a Right Of Way (ROW), must be kept clear of trees, buildings and other structures.
Consult the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS)
It’s a good idea for public officials to familiarize themselves with the pipelines located in their community. Fortunately, government officials and natural gas pipeline operators can access the NPMS. A joint project of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and Office of Pipeline Safety, the NPMS is a geographic information system that allows users to view gas pipelines in any given state and find out the name of the company that operates a particular pipeline. To access the NPMS, visit www.npms.rspa.dot.gov.
Know the signs of a gas leak
Everyone, including public officials, should know the signs of a gas leak:
SMELL— To help you SMELL a leak from a gas line or appliance, a familiar odor like rotten eggs is often added to natural gas and propane.
SEE — Near a leaking gas pipeline, you might SEE blowing dirt, bubbling water or an unusual area of dead vegetation.
HEAR — A leaking gas pipeline, appliance, storage tank or cylinder might make a hissing sound you can HEAR.
If you notice any of the above signs, do not try to stop or repair the leak yourself or use anything that might create a spark, such as a cell phone. Instead, leave the area immediately and call your local gas company or 911.
To learn more…
For more information on what companies do to keep the gas delivery system safe for everyone, including information on emergency plans, please contact your local gas company.