Natural Gas Pipeline Safety
About Natural Gas Pipelines
Natural gas is transported from producing wells through large underground pipelines called transmission lines. The gas then travels to cities and towns through main lines. From the main lines, natural gas is carried to your home or business through service lines, which stop at the gas meter.
What is Your Responsibility?
NIPSCO owns and maintains that pipeline to the meter; however the property owner owns the house lines, including any that extend beyond the meter to the appliances inside the home or business, or to other locations on the property.
We conduct routine inspections of all piping up to the meter, repairing and replacing lines and meters as necessary. It's the responsibility of the property owner, however, to initiate any inspection and necessary repair or replacement of customer piping through a qualified professional, such as a licensed heating/cooling contractor or plumber.
If buried piping isn’t maintained, it might become subject to corrosion and leakage over time. For your safety, we inspect gas lines for leakage on a regular basis. If the line is metallic, we also inspect it for corrosion. Our routine inspection covers all gas piping up to and including the meter.
In some circumstances, we are also required to test house lines and inspect gas appliances. If our inspection detects a problem in any portion of your house lines or any of your appliances, we might have to “red tag” the appliance and interrupt your service until you’ve had it repaired.
Only a qualified heating/cooling contractor or plumber should perform any inspection, installation, repair or replacement of house lines or appliances.
Pipeline Rights of Way
A pipeline right of way is the strip of land over and around a pipeline. Rights of way are kept clear of obstructions to enable the gas company to safely operate, patrol, inspect, maintain and repair its pipelines. We regularly inspect our rights of ways. A right of way agreement between the gas company and the property owner is called an easement. Easements provide the gas company with permanent, limited interest to the land to enable us to access, operate, test, inspect, maintain and protect our pipelines. Although agreements may vary, rights of way can extend up to 25 feet each way from the center of the pipeline.
If the gas company has an easement on your property, you should be aware of our guidelines for encroachment and construction near natural gas pipeline equipment. It’s important that property owners not install any structures, store anything that could be an obstruction, or plant trees or shrubs along the right of way. Normal gardening and agricultural activities are generally acceptable. But you should never dig or construct anything in the area without first having a gas company representative mark the pipeline, stake the right of way and explain the company’s construction guidelines.
How to Identify Underground Natural Gas Pipelines
Natural gas pipelines are sometimes identified by markers placed at intervals along pipeline rights of way. Markers display 24-hour emergency telephone numbers and might provide other identifying information. They are generally placed wherever needed to indicate the presence of a pipeline, such as where a pipeline easement intersects a street, railroad, or river and in heavily congested areas.
Pipeline markers are important to your safety. It’s a federal crime to willfully deface, damage, remove or destroy any pipeline sign or right-of-way marker.
While the markers are very helpful to indicate the presence of pipelines in the area, they don’t show the exact location, depth, or how many pipelines are in the right of way. Don’t rely solely on the presence or absence of a pipeline marker. Always call your state’s one-call notification service to have underground pipelines marked.
People who turn valves that only the gas company should operate, or who install unauthorized connections to divert energy around meters and into their home or business are not only breaking the law – they’re also endangering property and lives. Tampering with a gas meter or natural gas line could cause property damage and fatal injury from asphyxiation, explosion, or fire. In other cases of unauthorized use, customers might use natural gas service not knowing that service was never placed in their name. Unauthorized use of energy affects all customers through higher costs.
If you suspect someone might have tampered with a meter or might otherwise be using natural gas without our knowledge, please call our Customer Service at 1-800-4NIPSCO (or 1-800-464-7726) 24 hours a day. We’ll keep your name and all information confidential.
for more information about natural gas pipelines in your area.