Why would we even want to learn how to spot a pipeline? Well, in Colorado alone, over 45,000 miles of pipeline exist to move products such as:
- Natural Gas
- Crude Oil
- Energy Products
Homes and businesses reap the benefits of this interconnected web that crisscrosses the state. And because so many pipelines exist, we thought that a lesson on how to find a pipeline might be helpful, to keep yourself and the pipeline safe. Oil and gas companies and operators have all kinds of gadgets, computers, and personnel at their disposal to ensure that their pipeline is safe and that accidents are reduced. But average citizens can play a part too, with some basic knowledge and instinct.
Take Notice of Surroundings
Look for permanent and temporary signs. These signs are usually bright yellow and orange. They indicate that a pipeline exists in an area, especially along railroad crossings, streets, highways and waterways. The signs provide the type of product, the pipeline operator, and emergency contact information.
The National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS), managed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), is an online mapping system created to help folks find pipelines in their community.
Call 811 Before Digging
This is like 911 for pipelines. Most states require anyone and everyone to call 811 before digging around the site of a pipeline to avoid damage and accidents. The pipelines operator will come out and inspect the land and provide the go-ahead.
Know Land Easement Agreement Restrictions
That’s legal jargon for “work with pipeline operators before tinkering with a right-of-way.” A right-of-way is “a strip of land over and around pipelines where some of the property owner’s legal rights have been granted to a pipeline company,” and must be clear of anything that would interfere with an operator being able to inspect or perform maintenance on a pipeline.
Report Unusual Activity
If something seems unusual or suspicious don’t hesitate to contact the pipeline operator or local authorities. Notice that a pipeline is exposed? Report it. Notice activities around the pipeline that seem risky or dangerous? Report it. Notice an excavation that seems suspicious? Report it.
This is especially important with gas appliances at homes and workplaces. Hire a professional to take a close look at the lines occasionally to ensure their safety. Most importantly, make sure carbon monoxide detectors are installed and functioning properly.
Information for this article provided by the Pipeline Association for Public Awareness.