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Working near our pipelines

Working near high-pressure pipelines and energy facilities is not the time to take shortcuts

Remember, any of the following activities require written consent from TC Energy. Failure to obtain written consent can result in serious consequences.

  • any ground disturbance within 30 metres of the centerline of the pipe;
  • construction of a facility on a pipeline right-of-way;
  • or vehicle or mobile equipment crossing the pipeline right-of-way.

If your project goes ahead without proper approval from the pipeline operator, you are at risk of damaging the pipeline, creating an unsafe situation, and possible fines and penalties from regulators.

Why take the risk?

To help you in your planning, either before you contact the pipeline operator or while collaborating with a pipeline representative, we have some useful guidelines for Development near our pipelines and facilities.

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Start with a local request

Every province has a service that will help identify the approximate location and depth of underground utilities. Locate requests must be made at least three working days in advance (five in Ontario) of the work beginning. Visit ClickBeforeYouDig.com to learn more and find your local One-Call Centre.

Once you've made a request, the One-Call Centre will notify TC Energy to send a representative to mark the facilities with flags, paint or other markings. The TC Energy representative will explain the significance of the markings and provide you with a copy of the locate report.

The service is free and could prevent accidents, injuries or deaths.

Major developments on or near pipeline facilities

Larger projects can require more than three days notice to gain approval.

It is important for municipal authorities, developers and landowners to consult with TC Energy early in the planning stage of a development project on or near a right-of-way.

This will allow TC Energy sufficient time to ensure pipelines and facilities are appropriately incorporated into the plan and that any new development near our facilities meets regulatory and TC Energy requirements. Our involvement in planning can help to avoid delays and save costs by leveraging our previous success in working with developers and municipalities.

A pipeline representative must be present before beginning work on the right-of-way


If the work is not included in the existing agreement, you would need a new request or agreement in place before starting work.

Even if the line is marked, a representative must be present to accurately read the depth and to ensure TC Energy processes are followed.

Pipeline depth and route can vary, or the depth of cover may have changed due to erosion or other factors. Each project needs a new approval.

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.


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.
  • Many petroleum products have a distinct smell. Crude oil can possess a rotten egg, gasoline, tar or skunk-like odor.


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)
  • 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


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.