Planning and Development Services

Director: Dale Pernula
Pipeline Safety in Skagit County
Underground and aboveground pipelines carry natural gas or other hazardous liquids across and throughout our county. While these pipelines are essential to safely providing our homes and businesses with fuel, damaging one of them could result in serious harm to the environment or human life.

Pipelines can be divided into two types: large transmission pipelines that carry fuels across the county, and smaller distribution pipelines that deliver fuel directly to your home or business.
  • State law requires you to call 811 before you dig for almost any home improvement project to avoid damaging buried utilities, including pipelines.
  • Skagit County has adopted rules that you must follow when applying for permits or land divisions within 100 feet of transmission pipelines.

Living near Distribution Pipelines
CALL 811 BEFORE YOU DIG!
Distribution pipelines are all around us. Are you planning to dig? Doing a home-improvement project? Planting a tree? Installing a fence or a deck? CALL 811 BEFORE YOU DIG! It's the law.

Whether you are planning to do it yourself or hire a professional, smart digging means calling 811 before each job. Homeowners often make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked, but every digging job requires a call-even small projects like planting trees and shrubs. The depth of utility lines varies and there may be multiple utility lines in a common area. If you hit an underground utility line while digging, you can harm yourself or those around you, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, and potentially be responsible for fines and repair costs.

The "Call Before You Dig" program provides a national phone number to help protect you from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines while working on digging projects. Calling before you dig is required by state law. See RCW 19.122.
DO YOU SMELL NATURAL GAS?
If you smell natural gas and suspect a small natural gas leak in your home, take the following steps:
  • Evacuate everyone.
  • Do not operate any electrical switches. Sparking could ignite the gas.
  • Do not light matches.
  • Turn off the gas valve located at the gas meter with a wrench or other suitable tool.
  • If the leaking gas ignites, do not try to put out the flames. Call the fire department at 911.
  • From a phone outside your home and away from the gas leak, call Cascade Natural Gas from the toll-free emergency number. Do NOT use the phone in your house! Even tiny sparks can ignite gas vapors.
24-hour emergency contact number for Washington and Oregon: 1-888-522-1130
 
Living near Transmission Pipelines
DO I LIVE NEAR A TRANSMISSION PIPELINE?
Four transmission pipelines cross Skagit County carrying natural gas or other hazardous liquids. To see if a transmission pipeline runs through your property, use our iMap program.

1. Click here to open iMap in a new window.
2. In the upper right corner, choose "View Layers."
3. In the upper right hand corner, under "Select View," choose "Transmission Pipelines."
4. On the left side, click to search by address (or another method) to find your property.


Underground pipelines are everywhere. More than two million miles of pipelines crisscross the United States safely transporting natural gas, gasoline and other products every day. Understanding where pipelines are located, potential hazards, and how to identify and respond to a potential leak will keep your family, employees, and community safe.

PIPELINE CONSULTATION AREAS
If you're within 100 feet of a transmission pipeline in unincorporated Skagit County, SCC 14.16.835 requires you to consult with the pipeline operator before the County can issue you a building permit or approve a land division. Consultation Area Diagram [Pdf]
Why pipeline consultation?

Early consultation is recommended by the Pipelines and Informed Planning Alliance November 2010 Final Report, sponsored by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's Office of Pipeline Safety, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The report recommends local governments require early consultation between property developers and pipeline operators, before a project is approved, to "avoid situations where transmission pipeline operators learn of proposed land use and development projects only after the design is complete or construction begins. In those situations, it is often difficult or impossible to make cost-effective changes that may be needed to enhance public safety and ensure operator access to the pipeline facilities.

"How does consultation work?

After you submit a complete application to the County planning department, the County will e-mail your application to any nearby pipeline operator and request consultation. The pipeline operator will respond directly to you, with a CC to the County.
WHAT DO PIPELINE MARKERS LOOK LIKE?
Being able to recognize a pipeline marker is very important. Below are some examples of what a pipeline marker may look like in your area.

RESOURCES FOR LANDOWNERS
Call Before You Dig
Background Resources Transmission pipeline companies in Skagit County Pipeline Videos: Useful information: Case Studies:
PIPELINE 101

What are pipelines? Where are they? And why do we need them in the first place?

The energy transportation network of the United States consists of over 2.5 million miles of pipelines. That's enough to circle the earth about 100 times. These pipelines are operated by approximately 3,000 companies, large and small.

Based on data generated from annual reports to PHMSA from pipeline operators, the network includes approximately:

• 175,000 miles of onshore and offshore hazardous liquid pipeline
• 321,000 miles of onshore and offshore gas transmission and Gathering pipelines
• 2,066,000 miles of natural gas distribution mains and service pipelines
• 114 active LNG plants connected to our natural gas transmission and distribution systems
• Propane Distribution System pipelines

Although pipelines exist in all fifty states, most of us are unaware that this vast network even exists. This is due to the strong safety record of pipelines and the fact that most are located underground. Installing pipelines underground protects them from damage and helps protect our communities as well.