|Pipeline Safety > For Emergency Responders
As part of New Mexico Gas Company’s emergency response plans, specific information is provided to prepare local emergency response personnel to handle natural gas emergencies, such as a fire, leak, rupture or other serious incidents occurring along our pipeline system and at or near any of our facilities.
Pipelines distributing natural gas to individual homes and businesses run under streets, sidewalks and yards across the communities New Mexico Gas Company serves. These smaller distribution lines can be only a few inches below ground due to erosion, landscaping and other activities. In contrast, larger and higher-pressure transmission pipelines that transport gas longer distances from suppliers to communities can be affected by activities such as farming, construction and new housing development.
Natural gas doesn’t ignite or explode on its own unless there is a source of ignition. This can occur only under two simultaneous circumstances:
Natural gas is non-toxic and cannot cause you to become sick, unless the gas is in such high concentrations that you cannot get enough oxygen to breathe. Because natural gas is lighter than air, when it is released, it rises and dissipates harmlessly into the atmosphere.
- the natural gas must be present in a concentration of 4 to 14 percent relative to the air
- the natural gas must come in contact with an ignition source that is 850 degrees Fahrenheit or more.
Information for Emergency Responders In the Event of a Suspected Natural Gas Emergency
Step One: Assess the Situation
- Determine the wind direction.
- Park vehicles and approach the scene from upwind or crosswind location.
- Do not park over manholes or storm drains.
- Do not walk or drive into vapor cloud or puddle of liquid.
- Eliminate potential ignition sources: do not leave engines running, do not restart stalled engines, help others control ignition sources.
- Notify railroad authority of vapor cloud near tracks if applicable.
- Measure atmospheric conditions with detection equipment.
Step Two: Protect the Public
- Secure the area around the natural gas leak to limit the public to a safe distance from the leak.
- Enter with caution.
- Erect barricades if necessary to control access to the site.
- Evacuate people if necessary. This could include: homes; businesses; schools; other areas where people congregate.
- Establish isolation zones based upon measurements from combustible gas indicator instruments. Gas odor or lack of gas odor is not sufficient to establish safe zones.
- Establish a command area at the site to help ensure good communications between all emergency response personnel.
- Provide medical assistance if needed.
- Do not extinguish primary fires. If the pipeline is burning, try to prevent the spread of fire but do not attempt to extinguish it. Let the escaping gas burn. Attempting to extinguish a natural gas fire may result in a secondary explosion. If necessary, provide cooling for nearby exposures that are threatened by the fire.
- Eliminate ignition sources including:
* electric motors
* pilot lights
* burn barrels
* cell phones
* ungrounded tools
* emergency radios
* static electricity
* any open spark or flame
- Avoid forced ventilation of structures and excavations. Forced ventilation can actually increase the possibility of a flammable atmosphere.
- Wait for New Mexico Gas Company representatives to arrive.
- Do not operate pipeline equipment. Improperly operating the pipeline valves could escalate the situation and cause other accidents. Let New Mexico Gas Company personnel operate the valves to cut off the fuel supply.
- Local Emergency Planning Committees should ensure all required emergency responders on scene or en route, maintain an incident command post, and help everyone work together.
- Law Enforcement Officers should secure the area, evacuate or shelter-in-place, barricade the emergency site, implement crowd control and traffic control, watch for any vapor cloud movement, and do not operate pipeline equipment but wait for a New Mexico Gas Company representative.
- Fire Responders and Hazmat Teams should establish hot-warm-cold zones; do not extinguish primary fires; prevent perimeter fires from starting or spreading; cool surrounding structures; do not ignite a vapor cloud; and do not operate pipeline equipment, but wait for a New Mexico Gas Company representative.
- Medical Responders and Poison Control should assess the health hazards, use caution entering the area, communicate with the incident commander, and provide medical assistance.
Step Three: Contact New Mexico Gas Company
If New Mexico Gas Company is not already aware of the situation, immediately contact us. Call our emergency line at 888-NM-GAS-CO (888-664-2726).
- Provide your contact information, the location of the emergency, and the size, characteristics and behavior of the gas leak.
- Be ready to supply additional information including any injuries or deaths, property damage, proximity to buildings, whether environmentally sensitive areas are involved, whether there is a primary or secondary fire, and whether other emergency response agencies are on site.
Step Four: Work Together
- The New Mexico Gas Company representative will establish contact with the incident commander.
- Continued assistance may be requested with evacuation, traffic control and area security.
Pipelines in Your Area of Jurisdiction
If there are New Mexico Gas Company customers in your community, gas pipelines could lead up to every home and business. Providing maps for those facilities is not possible, but to learn where distribution gas pipelines exist in your community, use New Mexico One Call, call before you dig telephone number Call 811.
Within two business days, at no charge, New Mexico Gas Company will go to the areas in question and mark the location of our pipelines.
There are several other ways you can get additional information:
For a copy of New Mexico Gas Company's brochure, "Pipeline Safety in Your Community," in English and Spanish, a pdf copy may be downloaded here.
- New Mexico Gas Company operations hold meetings throughout the state with emergency responders to inform them about our operations. If you are interested in finding out more about this program or in attending a meeting, contact Gary Roybal at (505) 697-3636.
- Mr. Roybal can also provide more detailed information for emergency responders about:
* New Mexico Gas Company natural gas pipelines
* questions and concerns regarding public safety
* pipeline integrity management program issues
* emergency preparedness
* public awareness
* land use practices
* New Mexico Gas Company’s emergency response plan
- You can register for an additional service to give you more information about New Mexico Gas Company pipelines that cross your area of jurisdiction.
* Register for free access to New Mexico Gas Company transmission gas pipeline locations at the National Pipeline Mapping System at www.npms.phmsa.dot.gov/.