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Natural Gas Safety
About Natural Gas

Pipeline SafetyCenterPoint Energy's highest priority is safe and reliable delivery of natural gas. We would like for you to know the facts about natural gas pipeline safety. America's pipeline network is used everyday to transport products such as natural gas to homes, businesses and industrial facilities. According to the National Transportation Safety Board statistics, pipelines are the safest and most economical method of transporting products.

Our commitment to your safety

CenterPoint Energy is committed to the safe and reliable operation of its pipelines in your community. We monitor the operations of our pipelines which are designed, installed, tested, operated and maintained in accordance with all applicable Federal and State requirements. CenterPoint Energy maintains its safety record by routine inspections, corrosion protection, maintenance and testing programs, employee training and public education. Public education includes educational outreach with excavating contractors, emergency response officials, appropriate public officials, and the affected public. You can learn more at the American Gas Association.

How can you tell where a pipeline is located?

Since most pipelines are buried underground, pipeline markers are used to indicate their approximate location along the route. They cannot be relied upon to indicate the exact position of the pipeline. The markers can be found where a pipeline intersects a street, highway or railway.

The markers display the material transported in the line, the name of the pipeline operator, and a telephone number where the operator can be reached in the event of an emergency.

What is in a pipeline?

  • Pipelines carry both gaseous and liquid materials under high pressure. 
  • Many pipelines contain colorless and odorless products. 
  • Many liquids form gaseous vapor clouds when released into the air. 
  • Some gases are lighter than air and will rise. 
  • Other heavier-than-air gases and liquids will stay near the ground and collect in low spots. 
  • All petroleum gases and liquids are flammable. 
  • Any pipeline leak can be potentially dangerous. 

Pipeline Access & Security

Pipeline right-of-ways must be kept free from structures and other obstructions to provide access to the pipeline for maintenance and in the event of an emergency. If a pipeline crosses your property, please do not plant trees or high shrubs on the right-of-way. Do not dig, build, store or place anything on or near the right-of-ways without first having the pipeline marked and the right-of-ways staked. 

Additionally, if you witness suspicious activity on a pipeline right-of-way, please report it to the authorities, or call your local CenterPoint Energy emergency number. 

Know the Signs of a Pipeline Leak

The best way to recognize a pipeline leak is by using your eyes, ears and nose.

Look – Persistent bubbling in standing water or discolored vegetation are signs of a possible leak around the pipeline area. A pool of liquid on the ground; a dense white cloud or fog; a slight mist of ice; or unexplained frozen ground near the pipeline are also signs of a possible leak.

Listen – Listen for any unusual noise like a hissing or roaring sound.

Smell – Notice any strange or unusual odor (the products will have a petroleum odor or smell like rotten eggs).

Some gases are odorless, and odorant cannot always be added.  It is important to use your ears and eyes as well as your nose to recognize a potential problem.   

What to do if you smell natural gas

INSIDE your home or building:

Step 1: Leave immediately on foot! Do not use electric switches, telephones (including cell phones) or anything that could cause a spark. 

Step 2: Go directly to a safe location, and then call 911 and CenterPoint Energy. Do not use e-mail or the Internet to contact the company about a leak, and never assume someone else has reported the leak.

Step 3: Alert your neighbors. CenterPoint Energy checks suspected natural gas leaks at no cost to you. 

Step 4: Never try to repair a natural gas leak yourself. Leave all repairs to a trained technician.

CenterPoint Energy's gas leak toll-free phone number is: 
CenterPoint Energy Gas Transmission, Field Services, and 
Pine Pipeline – 1-800-474-1954 

Mississippi River Transmission and Illinois Gas 
– 1-800-325-4005 

Southeast Supply Header – 1-866-977-7374 

OUTSIDE your home or building: 

Step 1: Leave immediately on foot! Do not use electric switches, telephones (including cell phones) or anything that could cause a spark. Move in a crosswind direction away from the leak or vapor cloud and maintain a safe distance. 

Step 2: Go directly to a safe location, and then call 911 and CenterPoint Energy. 

Step 3: Warn others to stay away from the leak. Abandon any equipment being used in or near the area. For more information on natural gas safety, tour our natural gas safety section by navigating through the links on the left.     

Call 811 before you dig

Be Safe. It's free. It’s the law. 
  • Call 811 before you dig.
  • Give two working days' notice before digging. (48 hours)
  • Utility companies will mark the location of underground utility lines.
  • Respect the utility markers (see chart below) and dig carefully. 

Homeowners and contractors who are going to undertake projects involving excavation or digging must provide at least 48 hours' notice. The 811 service will connect you with the state one call center, which will alert participating utility companies such as electric, gas, cable and phone about the planned digging so they can mark the appropriate location of their underground lines if necessary.

Remember, you are responsible for marking your private lines such as invisible pet fences, sprinkler systems, yard lights and gas grill lines. 

For more information on natural gas safety, tour our natural gas safety section by navigating through the links on the left or related sites on the right.Local utilities will then come to your home or work site and mark the location of their underground lines using the following color codes: 

Utilities Location & Coordination Council Uniform Color Code.                                       

spacer gif  RED - Electric Power Lines, Cables, Conduit and Lighting Cables.
spacer gif  YELLOW - Gas, Oil, Steam, Petroleum or Gaseous Materials.
spacer gif  ORANGE - Communications, Alarm or Signal Lines, Cables or Conduit.
spacer gif  BLUE - Water, Irrigation and Slurry Lines.
spacer gif  GREEN - Sewers and Drain Lines.


How does 811 work?

Call 811 from anywhere in the country a few days prior to digging, and your call will be routed to your local One Call Center. Tell the operator where you're planning to dig, what type of work you will be doing and your affected local utilities companies will be notified about your intent to dig. In a few days, they'll send a locator to mark the approximate location of your underground lines, pipes and cables, so you'll know what's below - and be able to dig safely. 

But wait, what happens next?
Well, since your call was routed to your state one call center, locate crews from member utility companies have found out exactly where you are planning to dig and are on their way to mark where those hidden underground utility lines are under your lawn! 

Most locate crews will arrive to mark your property within a few days, ( be sure to check your state one-call center law for specific information) and will make sure you know exactly where to dig - even though the depths of utility lines may vary and there may be multiple utility lines in the same area.

Congratulations, you’ve taken the first step for a safe digging project.
Well you called before digging, waited for your lines to be marked, and now it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work! 

Locator crews, possibly from multiple companies, have been to your property and made sure to mark the approximate location of your underground utility lines. Check the area before proceeding with your project-if a member utility has not responded or if underground facilities are clearly present and not located, call your state one call center again to have the area located properly. 

Now, you are now officially ready to dig!
When digging, make sure to always dig around the marks, not on them. Some utility lines may be buried at a shallow depth, and an unintended shovel thrust can bring you right back to square one - facing potentially dangerous and/or costly consequences.

Dig Safely Call 811

Now that you've made the smart call to 811 and protected yourself, your family and neighborhood, make sure to spread the word about 811. Don't forget that with time, erosion or root structure growth may shift the locations of your utility lines, so remember to call again, each time you are planning a digging job. Safe digging is no accident. Know what's below. Always call before you dig.

For more information on 811,

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