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Do's and don'ts on a Right of Way

A pipeline right-of-way can be an attractive spot for all kinds of activities. Many are used as dog parks or play areas, and some use them as trails for ATV’s or snowmobiles.

It can be easy to forget that a pipeline is operating below you, transporting the energy needed to heat homes and create the products we all use every day. That's why it is important to protect this critical infrastructure, which includes treating the right-of-way with respect.

When using or playing on a ROW, it’s important to remember some basic guidelines to help keep you, the pipeline and your community safe. Here's some useful information to help you stay safe, and how to recognize and respond to a possible emergency situation.

Did you know...

It may seem convenient but camping on a right-of-way is not permitted for safety reasons.

Do:

  • Respect the landowner – ensure you have permission to use the land
  • Keep to the edges of the ROW – above-ground infrastructure can be hidden by snow or vegetation, steer wide to avoid it
  • Report deep ruts, damaged signage or unusual activity to the pipeline operator

 

Don't:

  • Light fires or have open flame
  • Camp or park on the right-of-way
  • Dig, trench or uproot trees and brush without prior approval
  • Drive on, across or over the right-of-way without approval

Trail Users

Using a right-of-way? For everyone’s safety:

By following these guidelines, you can use the nearby right-of-way while ensuring the continued safe and reliable operation of the pipeline. If you ever see any unusual activity on the pipeline right-of-way, please contact the pipeline operator. Contact information can always be found on the nearest pipeline marker.

Life-saving information

Did you know that in most provinces and states, it is a legal requirement to contact your local One-Call service before digging or excavation? These cosequences may include:

Fines and repair costs to fix the underground utility

• Provincial, state or federal regulators can levy hefty fines to both the person excavating and the company responsible, depending on the local regulations

• Repairs to utilities often cost more than the value of your original project, not including reclamation and clean-up costs

Interrupted services such as electricity, gas and water

• Underground utilities carry essential and critical services for the community. Interruptions to these are more than just minor inconveniences; they can put people, businesses and livelihoods at risk

•  Some utilities are buried as little as 12 inches below the surface, so even a simple shovel can cause serious damage

Risk of serious injuries and death

• Since 2008, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has reported 715 injured workers and 79 fatalities due to damages done to underground infrastructures during excavation work*.

*Source (PHMSA, 2018)

Although a pipeline leak is rare, it is important to know how to recognize the signs. Use your senses of smell, sight and hearing to detect a potential pipeline leak.

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What you may smell


Natural gas
  • Transmission lines that transport natural gas across Canada are rarely odourized, but may have a slight hydrocarbon smell. Distribution lines that transport natural gas to homes and businesses are odourized and could smell skunk-like or similar to rotten eggs.
Oil
  • Many petroleum products have a distinct smell. Crude oil can possess a rotten egg, gasoline, tar or skunk-like odor.

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What you may see


Natural gas
  • Dead or dying vegetation on or near a pipeline in a normally green area
  • Water bubbling or blowing into the air at a pond, creek or river
  • Dirt being blown or appearing to be thrown into the air
  • An accumulation of ice or frost over the pipeline (in the summer)
Oil
  • Amber to black liquid
  • Rainbow sheen or black liquid on top of water
  • Discoloured vegetation on or near a pipeline in an area that is usually green
  • Stained or melted snow/ice over pipeline areas

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What you may hear


Oil or natural gas
  • A hissing, roaring or bubbling sound

If you witness any of the signs listed above, or any other unusual sights, sounds or smells near a pipeline location, follow these steps immediately:

  1. Leave the area on foot – don’t use motor vehicles or any equipment that could be a potential ignition source.
  2. Move to a safe location and call ‘911’.
  3. Call TC Energy's emergency number. The emergency number can also be found on all TC Energy pipeline marker signs.
  4. Warn others to stay away.

I know where the pipeline is, do I still need to make a One-Call?
You can never be sure where underground utilities are unless they have been marked by a professional. Utilities can shift from erosion or natural forces or new ones may have been installed without your knowledge. Using the free One-Call service allows you to conduct your work safely.

How do I contact my local One-Call service?
Luckily there are resources to help you reach your local service easily. In Canada, you can visit www.ClickBeforeYouDig.com to find your local One-Call service, as well as other useful safe-digging rules and regulations in your province. In the U.S. you can dial 811 or visit www.call811.com to get in touch with your state’s provider.

When do I need to make a One-Call?
You need to make a locate request anytime you are disturbing the ground. This includes digging, piling material, paving or even driving equipment over a right-of-way. Any action that could impact something below the surface counts as ground disturbance.

What is a crossing agreement?
A crossing agreement is an agreement between you and the pipeline operator that allows you to conduct your work safely with the permission and understanding of the pipeline operator. Any changes to your work need to also be approved to ensure your safety.

How do I know if I need a crossing agreement?
If you plan to do any work on a right-of-way or access the right-of-way while conducting your work, there’s a good chance you need a crossing agreement. To find out for sure, you can either make a One-Call and wait for the pipeline operator to contact you, or you can contact the pipeline operator directly through their crossings team. Contact information can be found on this page.

What is the “prescribed area”?
The prescribed area is the area that extends 30 metres on either side of the pipeline centerline. Ground disturbance within this area requires written consent.

Emergency contacts

United States

In case of emergency, click here for contact numbers

Contact our US crossings team:
1-800-562-8931
us_crossings@tcenergy.com

 

Landowner inquiries:
1-877-287-1782

General inquiries:
1-855-458-6715
Public_awareness@tcenergy.com

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Emergency contacts

Mexico

Call before you Dig:
01-800-111-3333

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