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.
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).
Natural Gas Safety in Your Community
UES is committed to safe operations in all of the communities we serve. We're working closely with state and local leaders across Arizona to promote awareness of natural gas safety.
We want to be sure local leaders have access to all the information they need to:
- Identify and establish communications with local pipeline operators
- Develop pipeline safety awareness programs
- Educate constituents on pipeline safety issues
- Make sound zoning and permitting decisions to avoid encroachments to existing pipeline routes, and
- Promote pipeline awareness, damage prevention activities and safe maintenance work procedures to all local government department personnel responsible for public roadways, water, sewer and/or other underground utilities.
Whatever your role in local government, you can have an impact on pipeline awareness and safety. For more information, please call us at 1-877-UES4YOU (1-877-837-4968) and we'll provide you with all the information you need to help keep your community safe.
Stay Between the Lines
Don't break ground on a project of any size until you see the distinctive lines marking the location of underground facilities at your job site. Beginning any excavation without first identifying the location of underground facilities can create a deadly safety hazard, not to mention significant liability for you and your company.
To protect the safety of yourself and others, call 811 at least two working days before you dig so that all underground facilities can be marked. UES and other utilities will mark the locations of their underground facilities at no charge to you or your company. It's not just a good idea – it's the law.
If you see that a pipeline is exposed, shallow or damaged, contact UES around the clock at 1-877-837-4968.
What if I dig and disturb a pipeline?
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 a natural gas pipeline, no matter how minor it may seem.
If excavation work damages an underground gas pipeline and causes a gas leak, all workers should immediately move a safe distance away from escaping gas and the person responsible for the excavation should call 911 and UES as quickly as possible.
Can I build or dig on a right-of-way?
Written right-of-way agreements or easements between landowners and UES allow the construction and maintenance of natural gas pipelines across privately owned property. These pipeline rights-of-way or easements must be kept free from obstructions. To find out whether a UES pipeline is on or near your property:
- Check for pipeline markers or signs posted on your job site or around your neighborhood.
- Always dial 811 or visit arizona811.com to create an online ticket before you dig.
- Check the property record at your county clerk's office.
Four Simple Steps that Could Save Your Life
- Call before you dig.
- Wait the required time for facilities to be marked.
- Respect the marks.
- Dig safely and dig with care.