Learn how to stay safe around underground natural gas pipelines and other natural gas facilities.
Planning and Working Together
For more than 70 years, Minnesota Energy Resources has been providing safe and reliable natural gas to 165 communities throughout Minnesota. Inside our service territory, our crews oversee nearly 4,424 miles of delivery system pipeline.
We work hard to keep our delivery system safe and reliable and count on you to follow all natural gas safety rules and report any incidents. This page provides detailed information on:
- The Delivery System
- Pipeline Location
- Preventing Damage
- Pipeline Integrity
- Emergency Preparedness
- Important Contacts
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Delivery System
Every day in the United States, several million cubic feet of natural gas travel through an underground delivery system to 64 million utility customers. The gas is extracted from the earth and fed into gathering and transmission lines that bring supplies to all regions of the United States. Some natural gas is stored underground for use later. Natural gas is brought to utilities' "gate stations" that feed into gas mains, then to your homes and businesses via service lines.
The Minnesota Energy Resources natural gas delivery system has an excellent track record of safety and reliability. The company regularly tests, inspects, monitors and upgrades its system as required by state and federal laws.
There are several ways to identify if a pipeline or other natural gas facility is located in your community:
Underground natural gas facilities are practically everywhere: under streets and highways, around your home and business, in rural and urban communities. General maps of these facilities are available to the public. For more information, visit www.npms.phmsa.dot.gov.
We have installed above-ground markers to indicate our pipeline "rights-of-way." However, markers do not indicate the exact location and depth of the pipeline. The markers provide a toll-free number (800-889-4970) to report problems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Transmission line markers are typically placed at public road crossings, fence lines and street intersections. In most cases, these are not located inside urban service territories. The public should become familiar with nearby marker locations, and report any unusual or suspicious activities near these markers to their local police and the pipeline operator.
In order to perform required safety inspections on our pipelines, we must have clear access to the pipeline right-of-way. The area on either side of our pipelines must be kept clear of trees, sheds and other structures.
The leading cause of accidents on a natural gas delivery system is hitting lines when digging. Serious injury or death, property damage and service outages can occur if gas pipes are stuck during excavation.
You are required by law to call 811 at least two business days before you dig or excavate. Utilities will mark underground pipes at your site free of charge. Once underground facilities are marked, you are required to follow established guidelines when digging to prevent striking them.
If you plan to dig inside the Minnesota Energy Resources service territory, call Gopher State One Call at 811.
If you are located outside of our service territory, call the appropriate One Call Center in your area. To find the One Call Center in your area, contact the national Dig Safely referral line at 888-258-0808.
Identifying Pipeline Damage
Natural gas is colorless and odorless. That's why utilities add an odorant called mercaptan to natural gas. Its unpleasant smell helps alert you in the event of a gas leak. The unintentional release of gas is dangerous to the public and could cause fires, explosions, injury, and even death. A gas leak or damaged pipeline is indicated by the following:
- A strong odor
- A blowing or hissing sound from underground natural gas facilities or pipes
- Dirt blowing into the air or water bubbling
- Grass, plants or bushes turning brown over natural gas facilities
- Fire coming out of the ground
If you observe the above conditions, call the Minnesota Energy Resources emergency phone number, 800-889-4970, the number on the pipeline marker or 9-1-1 from another location.
To ensure safety, Minnesota Energy Resources works diligently to comply with the Gas Integrity Management Rule, established by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. This mandate requires that utilities identify high-density population areas and perform periodic inspections of pipelines located in those areas. Our Pipeline Integrity Program describes these high-density population areas, characterizes the threats to the pipelines in these areas, and describes how these pipelines will be tested, and how any defects will be evaluated and repaired. The effectiveness of the Pipeline Integrity Program is monitored, and the program is modified as needed to improve its effectiveness.
Physical damage to the pipeline and facilities is considered one of the most severe threats to people and the environment. Our recently established Pipeline Integrity and Public Awareness Programs ensure better protection from pipeline incidents. To learn more about pipeline integrity management, log on to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration website www.npms.phmsa.dot.gov.
Public safety and environmental protection are a priority for Minnesota Energy Resources. We have longstanding relationships with emergency responders where our facilities are located, as well as established federally required emergency response plans in place. Our personnel are trained and equipped to manage any natural gas incident in conjunction with emergency response officials.
|24-Hour Customer Service||800-889-9508|
|24-Hour Gas Emergency||800-889-4970|
|Gopher State One Call||811|