How to recognize a natural gas leak
- LOOK for blowing dirt, discolored vegetation or continued bubbling in standing water.
- LISTEN for a hissing or roaring noise of natural gas escaping.
- SMELL for the distinctive “rotten-egg” odor associated with natural gas. Natural gas is colorless and odorless, so we add a chemical odorant called mercaptan for easy detection. This odorant has a distinctive “rotten-egg” type odor. You should act any time you detect even a small amount of this odor in the air.
Note: Do not solely rely on the sense of smell. Be aware that some individuals may not be able to detect the odorant because they have a diminished sense of smell, olfactory fatigue, or because the odor is being masked by other odors in the area. Certain conditions may cause the odorant to diminish so that it is not detectable. Some gas lines, due to their unique function, may not have odor at all.
Help keep everyone safe during a natural gas emergency
Even though natural gas pipeline incidents are uncommon, it is still important to be prepared by knowing the signs of a potential problem.
Here are a few suggestions to ensure your safety and the safety of those in the area if a natural gas leak is suspected or detected:
- DO NOT attempt to stop the flow of natural gas, operate any pipeline valves or repair the leak yourself.
- AVOID using any sources of ignition, such as cellphones, cigarettes, matches, flashlights, electronic devices and motorized vehicles until you are a safe distance away from the potential leak, as natural gas can ignite from a spark or open flame, possibly causing a fire or explosion.
- CALL Central Valley Gas Storage at 855.303.2847 with the location and type of emergency.
SECURE the area by establishing a safety zone around the incident and control access. You may need to reroute traffic and evacuate area homes and businesses.
Central Valley Gas Storage, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southern Company Gas, through support and management provided by Pivotal Energy Development owns and operates a depleted reservoir natural gas storage field located in Princeton, California.
With safety being our highest priority, we adhere to federal and state pipeline safety regulations, perform quality control checks, educate the public on natural gas leak recognition and prevention, and work closely with emergency responders and public officials to develop emergency response plans.
Each year, we send important safety communications, offer training and meet with emergency responders to share information and discuss natural gas incident response and safety.
Call 811 Before You Dig
Every day, natural gas is delivered safely and efficiently to millions of U.S. businesses and homes through more than 2 million miles of underground pipelines. Even though natural gas pipeline incidents are uncommon, the biggest threat to pipelines is excavation activity, and an accident can have severe consequences. Excavation work, including digging or plowing around a home or business, is the most common cause of natural gas emergencies. Even damaging a small pipeline can lead to a fire or explosion.
Always call 811 and wait the required amount of time, as advised by California 811, before digging. Taking such action will notify the appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig so that professional locators can be sent, free of charge, to your job site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags and/or spray paint. Once all lines have been marked, it is important to respect the marks and use the appropriate tools to dig with care.
Remember, pipeline markers, like the example pictured, indicate only the general area of the pipeline and not the exact location or depth. Pipeline markers may not be present in all areas.
Information about transmission pipelines operating in your community is available through the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) and available online at https://www.npms.phmsa.dot.gov.
Pipeline integrity management is a process for assessing and mitigating pipeline risks to reduce both the likelihood and consequences of incidents. We have a comprehensive plan that fully addresses these processes, especially for locations deemed high-consequence areas.