Pipeline Safety Education

Most pipeline safety topics center on WHAT (are pipelines/what are their risks?), HOW (do pipelines work?), WHERE (are pipelines located?), and WHY (do pipelines fail?). As with any complicated transportation system, the answers to these questions are not simply summarized. The best and most complete place to begin answering these questions is the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Safety Awareness page, which houses various internal PHMSA informational resources on a variety of pipeline safety topics. 

Additionally, most of Colorado’s major pipeline system operators have websites devoted to pipelines and pipeline-related safety topics.

The COPUC is one of several state and Federal agencies verifying that pipeline operations in Colorado comply with regulations designed to protect and/or enhance public health and welfare.  These regulations address pipeline safety, environmental protection, and oil and gas conservation and are administered by the:

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) - is charged with fostering the responsible development of Colorado's oil and gas natural resources in a manner consistent with the protection of public health, safety, and welfare, including the environment and wildlife resources. Our agency seeks to serve, solicit participation from, and maintain working relationships with all those having an interest in Colorado's oil and gas natural resources.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) - To protect and improve the health of Colorado’s people and the quality of its environment.

U.S. DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) - PHMSA's mission is to protect people and the environment by advancing the safe transportation of energy and other hazardous materials that are essential to our daily lives. Please click here for information specific to Colorado.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) - is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. FERC also reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydropower projects.

The COPUC’s Pipeline Safety Program works closely with PHMSA’s Western Region, based home in Lakewood, CO.   PHMSA has a dedicated Community Liason Services team that works to facilitate communications among all pipeline stakeholders, including the public, the operators, and government officials.   All current PHMSA Community Liaison Services team contacts may be found on the PHMSA website.

How to Identify Pipelines and their Operator

Pipelines exist almost everywhere, including our neighborhoods. Per DOT regulations, pipelines are buried underground. Within and along the pipeline right-of-way (ROW) the pipeline’s general location is shown by above ground pipeline markers (signs, placards, or stakes). The right-of-way is clear of trees and other vegetation, buildings, or other structures. Pipeline markers can be found near waterways, roads and railway crossings and remember that pipelines do not always follow a straight path. These markers do not, however, show the exact location, depth, pressure, or number of pipelines but they do provide product carried, and the name and contact information of the company who operates the pipeline. Markers are usually red, yellow, or black in color. Primarily, markers help the public understand the location of pipelines to prevent excavation damage accidents. Even those these markers are present, it is important to verify the presence prior to any excavation such as planting a flower bed or landscaping, to reduce risk of any pipeline damage. There are many ways to identify the presence of pipelines such as using the National Pipeline Mapping System or calling Colorado 811...CALL BEFORE YOU DIG!