Pipeline Safety For Schools

Leak Recognition & Response

SIGHT– You may notice a pool of liquid, a white cloud or fog, discolored plants or grasses, flames or vapors near the pipeline, an oily sheen, or water bubbling without an obvious reason.

SOUND– You may hear a hissing or bubbling sound.

SMELL– An unusual odor or scent of gas, petroleum liquids or a slight hydrocarbon smell — natural gas is primarily odorless in gathering and transmission pipelines until the rotten egg smell (mercaptan) is added prior to local distribution. Landfill gas has a distinct odor of its own, which can actually be stronger than the mercaptan and is a more pungent and unpleasant odor. Natural gas liquids may have a strange or unusual smell with a strong petroleum odor. At low concentrations, CO2 is an odorless gas. At higher concentrations, it has a sharp, acidic odor.


Even though pipelines are one of the safest ways to transport petroleum and natural gas products, emergencies are possible. If such an emergency occurs it requires immediate and coordinated response efforts to protect students, staff, property and the environment. Yet, quite often pipeline facilities are overlooked when assessing risks.

If you suspect a pipeline leak:

• DO leave the area Immediately, moving upwind and away from the pipeline.

• DO notify emergency response personnel by calling 911 and the operator.

• DO NOT operate school buses, vehicles, electronic devices or any item that can create a spark.

• DO NOT breathe the released product in or make contact with the product.

• DO NOT attempt to put out any fires burning at the pipeline.

The following recommendations can help assure your school is prepared for an appropriate response:

• Familiarize staff and students with the location of nearby pipelines.

• Know how to recognize the signs of a potential pipeline problem and how to respond.

• Incorporate procedures for appropriately responding to a pipeline emergency in your school’s safety and evacuation plans.

• Maintain a heightened sense of vigilance in identifying risks to nearby pipelines.

How to Recognize a Pipeline Marker

Scroll to Top