Pipeline incidents are rare, but they can occur. The products carried in Enbridge's pipelines are flammable and potentially hazardous or explosive under certain conditions.
Know the warning signs
The Enbridge system carries many kinds of hydrocarbons, and each product has individual characteristics. This means that the warning signs can vary, depending on the product involved.
Recognizing a leak
Because of Enbridge's thorough maintenance, testing, monitoring, training and safety programs, a pipeline leak is unlikely. However, should a break occur in a pipeline, you should know how to recognize a leak.
If you see:
- a moist patch or pool of black liquid… it may be crude oil
- a moist patch or pool of light brown or yellow liquid…it may be synthetic crude or condensate
- a steam-like cloud, or a frost-like appearance on the ground… it may be a natural gas liquid
- a dry area in a wet field or flames coming from the ground or appearing to burn above ground… it may be natural gas
Also watch for:
- discoloured vegetation
- dirt being blown or appearing thrown in the air
- water bubbling or being blown into the air
If you hear:
An unusual hissing or roaring noise coming from the pipeline right-of-way or a connecting facility... it could be a pipeline leak
If you smell:
- an odour similar to gasoline or diesel fuel… it may be a refined oil product
- an odour similar to gasoline, but much stronger and less pleasant… it may be a natural gas liquid
Note: Natural gas is essentially odourless. Mercaptan, an odorant that is sometimes added to natural gas in city distribution systems for safety reasons, produces a distinctive “skunk” smell. However, cross-country transmission or gathering pipelines like those operated by Enbridge typically transport natural gas without an odorant.
What you shouldn’t do
1. Don’t touch or go near any liquid or vapour cloud that you think may have come from a pipeline leak.
2. Don’t start your car or any equipment that could be a potential ignition source, including cell phones, pagers, flashlights, keyless entry remotes.
3. Don’t turn on or off lights, appliances or electronics powered by electricity, batteries or natural gas.
4. Don’t smoke or light a match.
What you should do
1. Extinguish cigarettes or other lit material and turn off your car or any gas or diesel powered equipment.
2. Leave the area quickly, upwind of the suspected incident.
3. Move to a safe position upwind of the potential leak site.
4. As soon as you’re out of the area, call 911 and then, if possible, call Enbridge’s toll-free emergency number or a number that you see on a pipeline marker.
What happens next
Enbridge's emergency response plan will immediately go into effect.
- Personnel from our control center may immediately shut down or isolate sections of the pipeline.
- Trained emergency response crews will arrive to deal with leaked material and repair damaged pipe.
- Enbridge and local emergency response units will work as a team to identify and contain the situation.
- We will work under the oversight of local emergency environmental agencies to restore the land and remediate any temporary damage caused by the leak.