Recognize & Respond to a Pipeline Emergency

A damaged pipeline may release flammable products into the soil or the air that can be harmful to people and the environment.  It is important that you know how to quickly respond to a potential pipeline emergency.

Energy products transported in pipelines can be odorless.  Use your sense of sight and sound as well as smell to identify a potential leak.  Signs of a potential leak may include:

  • A smell similar to rotten eggs or sulfur, if odorant is added
  • Dead or dying vegetation near the pipeline
  • Pools of liquid or fire on the ground near the pipeline
  • Dirt or debris blowing into the air
  • A dense white cloud or fog near the pipeline
  • Hissing, gurgling or roaring sounds
  • Strong petroleum scent or other pungent odor

Pipeline Incident Response Checklist

For the majority of pipeline incidents, responders will have a limited number of options to actually stop the leak. In almost all cases, the pipeline operator will be required to resolve the incident safely.  Advance knowledge of where pipelines are located in your community, the products transported in them, and how to contact and work together with the pipeline operator in the event of an incident are key factors to an effective and safe response.

1. Assess the situation

  • Approach with caution from an upwind location
  • Employ ICS
  • Identify hazards
  • Contact the pipeline operator using the emergency number listed on the pipeline marker

2. Protect people, property and the environment

  • Rescue and evacuate people
  • Eliminate ignition sources
  • Control fires and leaks

3. Call for assistance

  • Contact your local emergency response organization or national resources if needed

For more information about emergency preparedness in your community download the following materials: