SOUND: Volume can range from a quiet hissing to a loud roar, depending on the size of the leak and pipeline system. 

SMELL: An unusual smell, petroleum odor, or gaseous odor will sometimes accompany pipeline leaks. Natural gas and HVLs are colorless, tasteless, and odorless, unless commercial odorants or Mercaptan is added. Gas transmission/gas gathering pipelines are odorless, but may have a hydrocarbon smell.

SIGHT: Liquid pools, continuous bubbling in wet or flooded areas, an oily sheet on water surfaces, vaporous fogs and/or blowing dirt around a pipeline area.  Dead or discolored plants in an otherwise healthy area of vegetation or frozen ground in warm weather are all signs of a pipeline leak. Natural gas is colorless, tasteless, and odorless, but vapor and "ground frosting" may be visible at high pressures. A natural gas leak may also be indicated by dust blowing from a hole in the ground or flames, if the leak is ignited.


Responding To A Pipeline Leak

  • Turn off any equipment and eliminate any ignition sources without risking injury.
  • Leave the area by foot immediately. Try to direct any other bystanders to leave the area.  Attempt to stay upwind.

  • From a safe location, notify the pipeline company (if known) immediately and call 911 or your local emergency response number. The company will need your name, your phone number, a brief description of the incident, and the location so the proper response can be initiated.

What not to do in the event of a leak:

  • DO NOT cause any open flame or other potential source of ignition, e.g. an electrical switch, vehicle ignition, or a lit match. Do not start motor vehicles or electrical equipment. Do not ring doorbells to notify others of the leak; knock with your hand.
  • DO NOT come into direct contact with any escaping liquids or gas.
  • DO NOT drive into a leak or vapor cloud while leaving the area.
  • DO NOT attempt to operate any pipeline valves yourself. You may inadvertently route more product to the leak or cause a secondary incident.
  • DO NOT attempt to extinguish a petroleum product or natural gas fire. Wait for local firemen and other professionals trained to deal with such emergencies.
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