Natural gas safety
Important safety information for gas customers
UES is committed to the safe operation of the pipelines used to deliver natural gas to our customers. By raising public awareness of the potential safety hazards associated with these facilities, we hope to reduce the likelihood and potential impact of pipeline emergencies and accidental releases of natural gas.
Here, find safety information for public officials, emergency workers, excavators and contractors, as well as members of the general public.
Call 811 before you dig
UniSource Energy Services is joining a nationwide campaign to spread awareness about how to avoid injury and damage when digging around underground utilities.
Arizona 811 , formerly Arizona Blue Stake, is an organization made up of utilities statewide that works to educate the public about how to protect underground facilities.
By dialing 811 from anywhere in the United States, homeowners and contractors can request the precise location of buried utility lines in the area. Without knowing what’s underground, digging or excavating could damage lines and result in serious injuries.
Arizona law requires anyone who plans to dig for any reason to contact Arizona 811 at least two full working days in advance to have all underground utilities in the area located and marked. Utilities can charge customers who damage an unmarked line for repairs and down time, and the Arizona Corporation Commission can levy a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation for damage to utility equipment.
The leading cause of damage to buried pipelines is the failure to identify the location of these facilities before excavation begins. Any contact with a natural gas pipeline that causes a scratch, gouge, crease or dent can lead to a leak.
Excavation activities can be as simple as planting a tree, installing landscaping, building a fence or digging for a swimming pool. So please be safe and call 811 before breaking ground on any such project on your property.
Detecting and reacting to a natural gas leak
Aside from accidental contacts, it is extremely unlikely that a natural gas pipeline will leak. Nonetheless, you should be prepared to recognize the signs of a leak and react appropriately if one should occur. Since natural gas is lighter than air, any underground leak can pose a danger at ground level.
Using your senses of sight, smell and sound will help you recognize a leak.
Sight – A dense fog, mist, or white cloud. Also, look for discolored vegetation, bubbling water or dust that is being blown away from a spot on the ground.
Smell – A harmless chemical is added to give natural gas a distinctive rotten egg smell to help identify leaks.
Sound – A hissing, whistling or roaring noise can identify a potential leak.
Be careful not to touch, breathe or make contact with leaking gas. Do not light a match, turn light switches on or off, use a telephone or do anything that creates a spark near a potential gas leak. Also, do not attempt to operate any valves yourself – leave that work to a trained UES technician.
Dedicated to safety
UES is dedicated to providing reliable service to our customers and to maintaining the safety of our employees and our equipment.
Before the first boom is lifted or the first spade of dirt is moved, it is imperative to consider if any electrical safety precautions are needed. Call UES before any construction, excavation, demolition or other work is performed at a work site that may involve UES facilities or equipment.
UES field employees will meet at no cost with property owners, builders or contractors at a work site to discuss safety concerns related to UES equipment. UES can implement preventative measures that can help protect against injury and preserve the integrity of UES electrical equipment that serves our community.
When UES determines it necessary, UES can de-energize or reconfigure UES electrical equipment at or near a work site. Calling UES before you begin any construction can help prevent unintended outages, injury, property damage and potential liability.
Safe, clean, reliable energy
Natural gas satisfies the public's demand for a safe, reliable energy source. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the natural gas transmission and distribution network is the nation's safest energy delivery system.
The natural gas delivery system is operated under strict federal and state safety codes. UES and other utilities continuously monitor and patrol gas pipelines and follow strict pipeline safety procedures. Please call UES at 1-877-837-4968 if you see anything out of the ordinary regarding our facilities.
Most natural gas pipelines are located underground, with line markers intermittently placed on the surface to indicate their approximate location. These markers do not indicate how deeply the pipeline is buried. Also, pipelines often take twists and turns between markers, so it's not safe to assume they proceed from marker to marker in a straight line. It is a crime for any person to deliberately damage, destroy or remove any pipeline marker or sign.
Any contact with a pipeline or its coating may cause future safety problems to the line and surrounding area. It is imperative that UES personnel inspect and repair any damage to our pipelines, no matter how minor it may seem. If digging or other activity damages or breaks a gas line, please call us at 1-877-837-4968 immediately to report the incident. Call 911 if there is an immediate threat of fire or injury.
Protecting the Public from Natural Gas Leaks
UES is ready to help you protect the public during a pipeline emergency. The following steps can help you ensure public safety until a UES representative is available for consultation on a specific incident.
- Secure the area around the leak. This could include evacuating people from homes, businesses, schools and other locations. You also might consider erecting a barricade to prevent access to the emergency site.
- Take steps to prevent ignition of a pipeline leak. This could include rerouting traffic and shutting off electricity and residential gas supply by qualified individuals. You also should prevent ignition sources from entering the emergency site.
- Contact the pipeline operator as quickly as possible. Pipeline markers should provide the company's name, phone number and the product the pipeline contains.
- Do not attempt to operate any valves – this could escalate the emergency. The pipeline operator will dispatch personnel qualified to start and stop pumps, open or close valves or take other steps to minimize the potential hazard.
Emergency Preparedness Communications
UES shares emergency contact information with state and local agencies including fire departments, police and other first responders. We provide safety training to first responders and work closely with them to prevent and prepare for potential emergencies. Also, our Emergency Plans and Operations Procedures are on file with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC).