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What To Do When A Pipeline Leaks

Posted on December 7, 2021 in

Pipelines are essential to the smooth operation of many industries and residential life throughout this country. There are pipelines in various areas around the country, with some in locations that individuals may not even be aware of. Regardless of whether or not you know, there is a pipeline located near you, it is important to understand what to do if you notice a pipeline leak. Here, we want to discuss how to recognize where a pipeline is and how to recognize a pipeline leak.

How to Recognize a Pipeline Leak

Recognizing an oil pipeline leak when the pipeline is above ground is not terribly difficult. Any worker or passerby in the vicinity will likely be able to see that there is a leak, and they should contact appropriate authorities immediately.

However, many oil pipelines throughout this country are buried beneath the ground. Many of these buried pipelines used in the transportation of natural gas and petroleum products are identified by markers above ground. These pipeline markers are located along certain pipeline routes, and they should give an individual an idea about the approximate location of the pipeline.

Each pipeline marker provides important information for the general public and emergency responders. This includes the name of the company that operates the pipeline, the product being transported, and a phone number that should be called in the event an emergency occurs. Pipeline markers are also located where the pipeline intersects with a railway, highway, or regular street.

Some of the most common indicators of a pipeline leak include the following:

  • Sights. Any type of liquid pools around where a pipeline may be located are signs that there is a leak. This can include discolored soil, continuous bubbling in wet or flooded areas, oily sheens on water surfaces, gaseous vapors or fogs, and more. Additionally, there are times when a fire could be coming from the ground or appear to burn above ground. Dead or discolored plants in an area could be a sign that there is a leak of an underground pipeline.
  • Sounds. There are various sounds that could indicate a pipeline leak, including a quiet hissing or even a loud roar, depending on the size of the leak.
  • Smells. Any unusual smells, including the smell of petroleum or a gaseous substance, could indicate that there is a pipeline leak.

What to do if You Think There is a Pipeline Leak

If you suspect there is a pipeline leak, there are various steps that you can take immediately. To ensure the safety of yourself and others in the vicinity of the pipeline, you should:

  • Turn off any gas appliances in the area if you are able to do so.
  • Leave the area on foot as soon as possible. Do not try to locate the actual source of the leak or odor. Ask other individuals to also leave the area. If you can, attempt to stay upwind of the leak while you are walking.
  • Call 911 from a safe location. Let the dispatcher know that you suspect there is a pipeline leak in the area, and tell them all of the reasons you think there is a leak. Let them know about any individuals still in the vicinity of the suspected leak so that they can take appropriate precautions and help save lives.
  • If you have the phone number to the pipeline in question, you can also call them and notify them about the incident.

If you suspect a pipeline leak, you should never attempt to operate the pipeline or the valves yourself. This could cause more problems. Do not use any open flames, electrical switches, or matches. You should also not use any cell phone or mobile electronic device in the area of the suspected pipeline leak.

If you are injured in a pipeline explosion, contact the Houston pipeline explosion attorneys at The Doan Law Firm for a free consultation.