Pipeline safety is an important farm issue that can’t be ignored

The Pipeline Ag Safety Alliance provides excellent resources to avoid trouble with underground utility lines on your farm.

Be aware of pipelines when digging fence posts, deep tillage and earth leveling. Photo by Jim Isleib, MSU Extension.

Be aware of pipelines when digging fence posts, deep tillage and earth leveling. Photo by Jim Isleib, MSU Extension.

The Pipeline Ag Safety Alliance works with Extension people across the country to help get the word out to farmers about pipeline safety. A recent message from the alliance includes the following tips.

Did you know?

  • Pipeline depths can change over time due to erosion, previous digging projects, contouring and other factors.
  • Some pipelines and related facilities may be located above the ground.
  • Pipeline markers are designed to make you aware of the presence of the pipeline and its approximate location.
  • Pipeline representatives may be required to be present whenever digging occurs on the pipeline right-of-way.
  • Even slight contact with a pipeline can cause damage, as pipelines have a protective coating that when scratched, nicked or scraped can cause future incidents. So if a farmer or rancher makes any contact with a pipeline, the pipeline operator should be called immediately.
  • Pipeline operators can be contacted by phone or email for any questions, and specific contact information (including emergency contact numbers) can be found on printed materials, company websites or pipeline markers in the field.

The alliance provides an easy, online tool called Find Pipelines in Your County to look for pipelines in your neighborhood. Use the “public map viewer” and select your state and county. A colored aerial map will appear with colored lines indicating utility pipelines. You can zoom in to see individual fields.

Farmers and everyone else are urged to call before you dig. It’s easy to do. You’ll have to think ahead a few days, but the local utilities will mark any underground utilities or assure you they are not present. “Digging” includes fence posts, deep tillage and earth leveling.

For more information, see the related Michigan State University Extension article, “When am I farming and when am I excavating?

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