Leak Prevention, Integrity & Training

Damage Prevention

Don't ever assume you know where the underground utilities are located.

One of the greatest single challenges to safe pipeline operations is the accidental damage caused by excavation. In accordance with state and federal guidelines set forth by PHMSA, damage prevention programs have been established to prevent damage to pipelines from excavation activities, using non-mechanical or mechanical equipment or explosives to move earth, rock or other material below existing grade. Laws vary by state, but most require a call to 811 between 48 to 72 hours before you plan to dig. Your local One-Call Center will let you know if there are any buried utilities in the area, and the utility companies will be notified to identify and clearly mark the location of their lines at no cost to you.




Pipelines are typically made of steel, covered with a protective coating and buried several feet underground. For your safety, markers are used to indicate the approximate location of pipelines. The markers contain the name of the pipeline operator, products transported and emergency contact information. Keep in mind that pipelines may not follow a straight line between markers, nor do markers indicate the exact location and depth of the pipeline.

Pipeline Integrity

Pipeline operators perform preventative maintenance on their pipelines to address potential issues before they become safety problems.

Proactive Inspections

Pipeline operators proactively inspect their pipelines on regular schedules looking for any potential issues and ensuring the pipe remains safe.

Inspection results will confirm a clean bill of health, diagnose a potential problem or help prescribe maintenance to correct the issue. Being proactive allows pipeline operators to find and fix issues before they become a problem.

Hi-Tech Inspection Tools

Pipeline operators use high-tech devices to scan their pipelines for potential issues.

Inspection tools called “smart pigs” travel inside the pipe scanning the pipe wall for signs of dents, corrosion or possible cracking. Smart pigs use technology similar to an ultrasound or an MRI found at a doctor's office. Sophisticated digital analysis will allows the operator to review the inspection data and predict when the pipe will need maintenance.

Preventative Maintenance

Pipeline operators perform preventative maintenance on their pipes to address potential issues before they become a problem.

For example, a "smart pig" inspection may tell a pipeline operator a small amount of corrosion is starting to form on the pipe. It does not yet pose a problem for the pipe, but needs maintenance to remove and keep the pipe in safe condition. Pipeline companies perform thousands of integrity digs each year to visually inspect and, if needed, repair sections of pipe.

24/7 Monitoring

Pipeline operators monitor their pipelines from a central control center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Specially trained controllers keep a watchful eye over systems monitoring pipeline pressure, flow and volume. Operator personnel patrol along the pipeline route and personnel in airplanes or helicopters travel overhead the length of the pipeline on a regular schedule looking for signs of leaks. Pipeline operators can quickly shut down a pipeline if monitoring technology suspects a leak. From their central control centers, pipeline operators will remotely stop pumps and close isolation valves. Pipeline control personnel are trained to shut down their systems, diagnose whether an alarm is showing a leak, and not restart until personnel determine the pipeline is operating safely.


Numerous agencies regulate the operations of pipeline and terminal assets through various types of permits, licenses, registrations and certifications. The federal government has the primary authority for pipeline safety regulations for both interstate and intrastate pipelines. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is responsible for establishing and enforcing proper design, construction, operation, maintenance, testing and inspection standards for both oil and natural gas pipelines. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reviews applications for the construction and operation of interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PA PUC) enforces federal safety standards, regulates safety practices, and prescribes additional safety standards beyond the federal standards. Safety standards apply to the design, installation, operation, inspection, testing, construction, extension, replacement and maintenance of pipeline facilities. Learn more about all Pennsylvania regulators in this fact sheet.

Training & Exercises

There are many resources available for emergency responders to study and train for all types of emergency incidents – house fire, flood, pipeline or other.

Free training resources

Many types of trainings are available to first responders. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, for example, offers public education, professional development training, and technical training to public safety volunteers from state government to local communities across the commonwealth.

Group trainings

Training together helps build relationships with first responders and enhances response efficiency along their pipeline routes. Coordinated Response Exercises, or CoRE, are large tabletop drills that bring together first responders with multiple pipeline operators to pre-plan for pipeline emergency response.

Asset-specific trainings

Some pipeline operators offer their own tabletop trainings, such as the Mariner Emergency Responder Outreach (MERO) Program along the Mariner East 1 and 2 pipelines. Developed in 2013, the MERO program has educated more than 2,000 first responders and public officials in Pennsylvania.

Energy Transfer Trains First Responders for Mariner East 2

The Mariner Emergency Responder Outreach (MERO) program has hosted specialized training sessions for more than 2,000 first responders in the Pennsylvania communities where the Energy Transfer Mariner pipelines operate.

Delco LEPC's Pipeline Emergency Response Tabletop Exercise

The Delaware County Department of Emergency Services and the Delaware County Local Emergency Planning Committee held a pipeline exercise attended by 141 people, including 15 Delaware County municipalities, the Dept. of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard, FBI, PA State Police, PEMA, local officials, and seven pipeline operators.

PHMSA's Pipeline Emergency Responders Initiative (PERI)

The PERI is a program intended to enhance communications and strengthen relationships among emergency responders, pipeline operators, and regulators; as well as to spur the development and implementation of enhanced pipeline emergency response training. Visit website