Pipelines are designed to be safe. From the materials used to build them, to the science employed to protect their integrity and the continuous monitoring and maintenance they undergo, safety is at the forefront of every step of a pipeline’s life cycle.
But pipelines can be damaged. The most common cause?
Excavation and construction.
That’s right – excavation and construction around transmission pipelines is one of the most common causes of damage to buried pipelines. So before any work takes place, including digging, scraping or even placing heavy equipment along the right-of-way, buried pipelines must be located.
The short answer is that protecting pipelines is everyone’s responsibility. This includes pipeline operators and stakeholders like landowners and excavators, who share a responsibility to protect workers, the public and the environment.
Pipeline operators meet this responsibility by:
Members of the digging community and the general public alike, have a responsibility to prevent damage to pipelines.
Here are five steps you can take to meet this responsibility:
Pipeline markers are signs found along the right-of-way, typically at road or river crossings, to identify approximately where the buried pipelines are located. However, these markers should not be solely relied on for the exact location, path or depth of a pipeline.
Most Canadian provinces have a One-Call Centre or a Call Before You Dig program to alert pipeline owners and operators of excavaton and construction projects that could damage a pipeline. If a One-Call Centre does not exist, you should contact the pipeline operator(s) directly.
Always contact a One-Call Centre at least three working days before digging or conducting any ground disturbance near buried pipelines.
Upon receipt of a locate request, the One-Call Centre will notify the pipeline operator(s) in the vicinity of the digging project. Within two to three days, the pipeline operator will contact you to determine next steps.
Regardless of the timeframe, you should wait to hear from the pipeline operator before proceeding. Identification of the lines helps to prevent damage and minimize risk to the public and the environment.
Don’t take any actions until you are absolutely sure you will not impact a buried pipeline, and then follow the instructions from an authorized pipeline operator representative.
This is extremely important because damaging a pipeline could result in anything from service disruptions, to environmental impacts, to serious injuries, or even the potential loss of life.
To learn more, check out our Pipeline Damage Prevention Fact Sheet (PDF).
The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association represents Canada’s transmission pipeline companies who operate approximately 110,000 kilometres of pipelines in Canada. In 2011, these energy highways moved approximately 1.2 billion barrels of liquid petroleum products and 5.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our members transport 97 per cent of Canada’s daily natural gas and onshore crude oil from producing regions to markets throughout North America.