Pipeline Safety

Fact Sheet February 08, 2019

Safety is the core value for America's natural gas utilities. The natural gas industry operates an extensive system of 2.5 million miles of distribution and transmission pipelines that stretch across the country to provide service to more than 177 million Americans. The design, construction, operation, inspection and maintenance of all operating pipelines are subject to state and federal regulations and requirements. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, pipelines are the safest, most environmentally-friendly and most efficient and reliable mode of transporting natural gas. 

We take a number of steps help maintain our longstanding record of safely and reliably delivering natural gas to homes and businesses throughout the nation.

  • Natural gas utilities spend $22 billion annually to help enhance the safety of natural gas distribution and transmission systems.
  • Since 1990, natural gas utilities addeed more than 600,000 miles of distribution and services to serve over 17 million new customers.
  • In the past decade, natural gas utilities have installed updated plastic lines at a rate of 30,000 miles per year.
  • The dedicated efforts of natural gas utilities over the past three decades have led to an approximately 40 percent decline in pipeline incidents over the past ten years.
  • Continued work with regulators and key stakeholders helps enhance industry safety.
  • AGA's member companies work together to identify and share best practices to help enhance safety and reliability.
  • In 2014, AGA launched a national Peer Review Program to further increase safety.

You can help ensure safe delivery of natural gas through these actions.

  1. Pay attention in order to help identify potential signs of a natural gas leak. There are several ways to detect a natural gas leak.
    • Smell: Because an odorant called mercaptan is added to natural gas by the utility to help you detect its presence, the best sign of a natural gas leak is if you smell something similar to rotten eggs. 
    • Sight: Look for dirt blowing into the air, persistent bubbling in standing water, or discolored or dead vegetation around the pipeline area. 
    • Sound: Listen for any unusual hissing or roaring sound.

In the event you think you smell, see or hear any of these signs of natural gas, leave the home, building or vicinity immediately and call your natural gas utility.  

Information on how to respond to a potential leaks or these signs varies throughout the country based on a variety of factors, including climate and soil condition. To learn how transmission pipelines near you or your distribution utility addresses leak, contact them directly. 

  1. Know What's Below: Call 811 Before You Dig. Be sure to call 811 at least three full days before you perform any digging work, even if it is something as simple as planting a tree in your yard. This will allow the local utilities to come and mark the location of any underground lines so that you can avoid damaging them when you dig. Visit www.call811.com.
  2. Help make sure that all those who are performing any excavation work in your neighborhood have notified 811. This would include any work done in the public right-of-way, as well as work done by individuals in their yard. If a call to 811 has been made, underground utilities in the vicinity of the excavation site will come to the site prior to the start of excavation and will mark the location of their buried facility through painted lines, flags or other markers. If a call to 811 has not been made prior to excavation, this could possibly result in damage to underground facilities, including natural gas pipelines.