Learn how to stay safe around underground natural gas pipelines and other natural gas facilities.
Planning and working together
For more than 70 years, Minnesota Energy Resources
has been providing safe and reliable natural gas to 165 communities
throughout Minnesota. Inside our service territory, our crews oversee
nearly 4,424 miles of delivery system pipeline.
We work hard to keep our delivery system safe and reliable and count on you to
follow all natural gas safety rules and report any incidents. This page provides
detailed information on:
The delivery system
Every day in the United States, several million cubic feet of natural gas
travel through an underground delivery system
to 64 million utility customers. The gas is extracted from the earth and fed
into gathering and transmission lines that bring supplies to all regions of
the United States. Some natural gas is stored underground for use later.
Natural gas is brought to utilities' "gate stations" that feed into gas mains,
then to your homes and businesses via service lines.
The Minnesota Energy Resources natural gas
delivery system has an excellent track record of safety and reliability.
The company regularly tests, inspects, monitors and upgrades its
system as required by state and federal laws.
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There are several ways to identify if a pipeline or other natural gas
facility is located in your community:
Underground natural gas facilities are practically everywhere: under streets and
highways, around your home and business, in rural and urban communities.
General maps of these facilities are available to the public. For more information, visit
We have installed above-ground markers to indicate our
pipeline "rights-of-way." However, markers do not indicate the exact location and depth of
the pipeline. The markers provide a toll-free number (800-889-4970)
to report problems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Transmission line markers are typically
placed at public road crossings, fence lines and street intersections. In most cases, these
are not located inside urban service territories. The public should become familiar with
nearby marker locations, and report any unusual or suspicious activities near these markers
to their local police and the pipeline operator.
In order to perform required safety inspections on our pipelines, we must
have clear access to the pipeline right-of-way. The area on either side of our
pipelines must be kept clear of trees, sheds and other structures.
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The leading cause of accidents on a natural gas delivery system is hitting
lines when digging. Serious injury or death, property damage and service
outages can occur if gas pipes are stuck during excavation.
You are required by law to call 811 at least two
business days before you dig or excavate. Utilities will mark
underground pipes at your site free of charge. Once underground facilities are
marked, you are required to follow established guidelines when digging to
prevent striking them
If you plan to dig inside the Minnesota Energy Resources service territory, call
Gopher State One Call at 811.
If you are located outside of our service territory, call the appropriate
One Call Center in your area. To find the One Call Center in your area, contact the
national Dig Safely referral line at 888-258-0808.
Identifying pipeline damage
Natural gas is colorless and odorless. That's why utilities add an odorant
called mercaptan to natural gas. Its unpleasant smell helps alert you in the
event of a gas leak. The unintentional release of gas is dangerous to the public
and could cause fires, explosions, injury, and even death.
A gas leak or damaged pipeline is indicated by the following:
- A strong odor
- A blowing or hissing sound from underground natural gas facilities or pipes
- Dirt blowing into the air or water bubbling
- Grass, plants or bushes turning brown over natural gas facilities
- Fire coming out of the ground
If you observe the above conditions, call the 800-889-4970
emergency phone number, the number on the pipeline marker or 9-1-1 from another location.
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Excess flow valves
An excess flow valve (EFV) is a safety device designed to automatically stop the flow of natural gas through the service line
if it exceeds a predetermined rate. When activated, an EFV may prevent the buildup of natural gas and lessen the potential for
property damage and/or injury. It should be noted that these devices generally do not protect against slow leaks, such as those
caused by corrosion or loose fittings, or leaks located along customer-owned piping beyond the natural gas meter. Many customers
already have an EFV installed on their natural gas service line. Customers who do not have an EFV may be eligible to have one installed.
EFVs are not available for some customers due to the amount of gas used, areas with delivery pressure less than 10 psi, or other circumstances
that hinder the effectiveness of the EFV. If a customer is eligible and requests the installation of an EFV, an EFV will be installed at a
time that is mutually agreeable to Minnesota Energy Resources and the customer. The customer will be responsible for the cost of excavation
and surface restoration associated with installation of the EFV. Once installed, there is no cost to the customer to maintain. Estimates for
cost and time frame for construction will be provided as requested on a case by case basis. Since the EFV will be installed on
Minnesota Energy Resources’s gas pipe, only Minnesota Energy Resources or its approved contractors may perform the installation.
Customers can request more information about EFV installations by calling our 24-hour customer service at 800-889-9508.
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To ensure safety, Minnesota Energy Resources works
diligently to comply with the Gas Integrity Management Rule, established by the
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. This mandate requires Minnesota Energy Resources to
identify high density population areas and perform periodic inspections of
pipelines located in those areas. Our Pipeline Integrity program
describes these high density population areas, characterizes threats to the
pipelines in these areas, describes how these pipelines will be tested, and how
any defects will be evaluated and repaired. The effectiveness of this program
is monitored, and the program is modified as needed to improve its effectiveness.
Physical damage to the pipeline and facilities is considered one of the most
severe threats to people and the environment. Our recently established Pipeline
Integrity and Public Awareness program ensures better protection from pipeline
incidents. To learn more about pipeline integrity management, log on to
the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration website
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Public safety and environmental protection are a priority for
Minnesota Energy Resources. We have
longstanding relationships with emergency responders where our facilities are
located, as well as established, federally required emergency response plans
in place. Our personnel are ideally trained and equipped to manage any natural
gas incident in conjunction with emergency response officials.
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