Pipeline Safety

Pipeline Safety

More than 2.2 million miles of pipelines and mains quietly, reliably and efficiently deliver natural gas every day for use by residential, commercial and industrial customers.

Almost all of the natural gas consumed in the United States is produced domestically and delivered via a transmission and distribution infrastructure that has an outstanding safety record.

Like all forms of energy, natural gas must be handled properly. Despite an excellent safety record, a gas leak caused by damage to a pipeline may pose a hazard and has the potential to ignite.

Whether you are a natural gas customer or not it is important for you to be familiar with the characteristics of natural gas, and be prepared to react quickly and properly to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

Leak Recognition and Response

A gas leak is often recognized by smell, sight or sound.

  • SMELL – Natural gas is colorless and odorless. A distinctive, pungent odor, similar to rotten eggs, is added so that you'll recognize it quickly. Not all transmission lines are odorized.
  • SIGHT – You may see a white dust cloud, mist, fog, bubbles in standing water or blowing dust. You may also see vegetation that appears to be dead or dying for no apparent reason.
  • SOUND – You may hear an unusual noise like roaring, hissing or whistling.

What You Should Do if You Suspect a Leak

  • MOVE to a safe environment.
  • CALL us immediately 800.292.5012 (Berkshire Gas Emergency Number)
  • DO NOT smoke or operate electrical switches of appliances. These items may produce a spark that might ignite the gas and cause an explosion.
  • DO NOT assume someone else will report the condition.
  • Provide the exact location, including cross streets.
  • Let us know if sewer construction or digging activities are going on in the area.

Download our Natural Gas Safety Brochure .

Know What You're Digging Into

The greatest risk to underground natural gas pipelines is accidental damage during excavation. Excavation damage accounts for almost 60 percent of all reported pipeline incidents. Even minor damage such as a gouge, scrape, dent, or crease to a pipeline or its coating may cause a leak or failure.

To protect pipelines and other underground facilities, the law requires that all excavators contact Dig Safe ® by dialing 811 before excavation work begins on public or private property. Whether you are a do-it-yourself homeowner or a professional excavator, every job requires a phone call. Dig Safe will contact the gas utility operator of underground facilities in the immediate area so the location of pipelines can be marked prior to excavation. This service is performed at no cost to you.

Underground pipelines often run along a public street, but may also be near private property. The area along each side of the pipeline is known as a right-of-way, which gives the facility owner the “right” to restrict certain activities, even on private property. Right-of-way locations must be respected and are usually marked on maps filed with local municipalities. Dig Safe can provide excavators with specific details regarding precautions required, in addition to having the location of underground facilities marked. Failure to comply with the law can jeopardize public safety, result in costly damages and lead to substantial fines.

Our Commitment to Safety

Safety is the natural gas industry's top priority. The industry spends more than $6 billion each year to maintain the gas distribution system's excellent safety record. We work with industry and peer groups to continually enhance our pipeline safety and training methods. At the state level, we work with regulators on programs designed to ensure the safe operation of the natural gas distribution system for customers and residents. And, as new technologies are developed in pipeline design, construction, inspections, and operations, we will continue to invest in pipeline integrity programs that will allow the safe and secure delivery of natural gas.

We work very closely with industry and government agencies on a variety of measures used to ensure pipeline safety including:

  • Coordination with Dig Safe
  • Visual inspection programs
  • Design and construction techniques
  • Workforce training
  • Industry safety practices and government oversight
  • Pipeline markers and facility mapping
  • Public education programs

And we work with emergency responders, sate and local agencies to prevent and prepare for emergencies through training and periodic drills. These exercises test procedures, logistics, communications and more. Emergency plans and procedures are periodically updated and made available to state authorities.



Additional Information from Berkshire Gas

Excess Flow Valve Notice

An Excess Flow Valves (EFV) is a device designed to shut off the flow of natural gas automatically if the service pipe breaks between the natural gas main in the street and the customer’s gas meter. Customers may request to have an EFV installed on their service if one does not already exist, and if the service allows for the proper installation of this device.

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