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Pipeline Clearance FAQs

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General Pipeline Clearance Information

What are the pipeline clearance guidelines?

Utilities have rights that allow for maintenance of their facilities on public and private land. To keep Duke Energy’s pipelines safe and reliable, workers will mow and clear the right of way of trees, high shrubs and other obstructions annually. Specific guidelines are set forth in right-of-way agreements recorded against property titles.

How much clearance is needed around the pipelines?

Clearance area size varies. If a pipeline marker appears on your property, notify the state One-Call Center at 811 before you dig or build in the area.

How often does Duke Energy perform right-of-way maintenance?

Duke Energy clears and mows its pipelines and facilities rights of way annually.

Will I be notified before a maintenance crew comes to my property?

Yes. We will hang information on your door to notify you of routine maintenance work at least three days before crews arrive. We will not be able to give prior notification in emergency situations or for unplanned pipeline disruptions. However, workers will knock on the door when they arrive on the property and prior to beginning work. They will show a Duke Energy identification badge. Learn more about how to identify a Duke Energy employee.

Are pipeline maintenance workers trained and professional?

Every professional working for Duke Energy is trained in proper work techniques and safety measures. Also, our contractors have extensive training and our Duke Energy employees oversee all facets of our right-of-way management programs.

Is there a charge for maintenance performed on my property?

Pipeline maintenance is part of our responsibility for ensuring safe, reliable natural gas service. The cost of managing the land around these pipelines is a part of the rates approved by the utility commissions in Ohio and Kentucky.

Is Duke Energy responsible for cleaning up after performing pipeline maintenance?

Our policy is to dispose of any small limbs and brush in maintained settings. The larger pieces of wood are cut into manageable lengths for your use. In non-maintained sites, pruned vegetation and wood is left in place to bio-degrade.

Buildings and other obstacles within the right-of-way limits are generally not permitted. If an encroachment agreement was approved by Duke Energy and the obstacle was permitted, the property owner is taking on the risk and is responsible for the clean-up of the obstacle.

How does Duke Energy control or remove unwanted vegetation from around pipelines?

Duke Energy takes an integrated approach to vegetation management. This includes a combination of techniques:

  • Mechanical Treatment – This includes the use of tractor disking, mechanical mowers and masticators.
  • Manual Treatment – This includes the use of hand grubbing, weed eaters and chainsaws.
  • Pesticide Treatment – This technique utilizes weed-control pesticides to treat weeds, vines, brush and re-sprouting hardwood and conifer species. All pesticide treatments are applied by backpack sprayer or tractor/truck mounted sprayers.

These are effective and environmentally safe practices that rely on a combination of common sense and industry standards, as well as on governmental laws, rules and regulations. Duke Energy takes the most economical approach with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment.

How can you tell where pipelines are located?

Investigate the property for ground markers. Natural gas pipeline markers are yellow and black. Propane pipeline markers are orange and black. Always call the state One-Call Center at 811 before you landscape or build, especially if one of these markers appears on your property.

When do I need to contact Duke Energy about working around pipelines (landscaping, building, etc.)?

By law, you are required to call the state One-Call Center at 811 before you conduct any landscaping or digging activities, at least two business days prior to any work, especially if a yellow or orange pipeline ground marker appears on your property. The One-Call Center will notify Duke Energy, and Duke Energy will likely require that its personnel be present for the excavation within the right of way. This policy is for the safety of those performing the work and for the public, as well as for the protection of the pipeline.

Does Duke Energy provide help to a property owner to remove obstructions from pipelines?

Removing vegetation or structures around pipelines is an extremely hazardous job. Duke Energy discourages you from undertaking any maintenance activities near pipelines. If you are concerned about the growth of trees or other vegetation on or near the pipelines on your property, we encourage you to contact Duke Energy at 1-800-544-6900, and our representative will be glad to assess the situation.

How can I get in touch with someone for more information?

For more information about the use, location and size of the right of way, please call Duke Energy’s Property and Right-of-Way Department at 1-800-544-6900.

Vegetation Clearance Guidelines

What are Duke Energy’s vegetation clearance guidelines?

Duke Energy follows effective guidelines for vegetation clearing within rights of way. This allows adequate access to complete inspections, to perform corrosion maintenance and to address pipeline damage and other emergency situations.

Property type determines Duke Energy’s approach to vegetation clearance:

  • Maintained Areas – Rights of way the property owner has regularly mowed and/or landscaped for property aesthetics, including locations where the property owner has planted bushes to create noise barriers or barrier walls.
  • Non-Maintained Areas – Rights-of-way areas where the property owner has not attempted to use the space occupied by the pipeline and easement. The majority of natural gas pipelines are found in non-maintained areas.
  • Riparian Areas – Rights-of-way areas near creek crossings, wetlands or where directional drill technology has been used under creeks, streams and rivers. Directional drilling is a method for installing underground utilities in which special assemblies are used to drill at any angle and around obstacles. Vegetation clearance techniques may vary in Riparian Areas.
  • Special Areas – Areas where directional drill technology has been utilized not under waterways specified by the Environmental Protection Agency or equal.

What is a regularly maintained right-of-way area?

Maintained areas are those within the right of way that the property owner regularly mows and/or landscapes. These include locations where the property owner has planted bushes to create noise barriers or barrier walls.

How does Duke Energy clear regularly maintained areas?

Maintained areas are those within the right of way that the property owner regularly mows and/or landscapes. These include locations where the property owner has planted bushes to create noise barriers or barrier walls.

Three options for clearing regularly maintained areas are listed below:

  • Option 1: Duke Energy’s Gas Engineering Department will inspect the property to determine if current vegetation could hinder inspection, maintenance or accessibility of the pipeline. Vegetation considered harmful to the integrity of the pipeline will be removed. Other vegetation may remain as long as it doesn’t interfere with inspection, maintenance or accessibility. The property owner will receive a notification letter prior to clearing. The vegetation contractor will clear the right-of-way width as defined in the final notification letter to the property owner. The diagram below illustrates a possible agreement where a trail zone would be maintained through vegetation practices.
  • Option 2: The full width or agreed to width is cleared with the property owner’s consent.
  • Option 3: Special clearing arrangements may apply to any agreements made with the purchase of the rights-of-way area or they may be restricted by the Environmental Protection Agency during the permitting application or by any agreements made but not covered by options 1 or 2. This arrangement could include small established trees that will not mature above 15 feet in height, gardens or extensively landscaped areas. The diagram below illustrates a possible agreement where a trail zone would be maintained through vegetation practices.

What is a non-maintained right-of-way area?

Non-maintained areas around pipelines are areas where the property owner has not made an attempt to use the space occupied by the pipeline and easement. The majority of natural gas pipelines are found in non-maintained areas.

How does Duke Energy clear non-maintained areas?

Non-maintained areas around pipelines are areas where the property owner has not made an attempt to use the space occupied by the pipeline and right of way. The majority of natural gas pipelines are found in non-maintained areas.

The clearance contractor will most likely mow the full width of the right-of-way corridor, which can be found in the right-of-way agreement.

Vegetation control may not be required on land that is used for cultivated agriculture, pastures or prairie grass. Vegetation control practices also will conform to any regulatory restrictions related to the removal of trees impacted by migratory birds, Indiana bats and other endangered species.

What is a riparian right-of-way area?

Riparian areas are located near creek crossings, wetlands, streams and rivers.

What is a special right-of-way area?

Special areas are directionally drilled areas not located under waterways specified by the Environmental Protection Agency or its equal. Directional drilling is a method of drilling for installing underground utilities in which special assemblies are used to drill at any angle and around obstacles.

What happens if a property owner disputes an area to be cleared?

When a property owner contacts the contractor with concerns about what will be cleared, Duke Energy will try to resolve the dispute through several means of communications and information exchanges, but reserves the right to exercise the right-of-way agreement without landowner permission.

Safety Precautions

What are the signs of a natural gas leak?

Natural gas is lighter than air. When natural gas escapes from a pipeline, it rises and dissipates into the atmosphere.

Signs of a natural gas leak include:

  • An unusual, sulfur-like odor
  • Blowing or hissing sound
  • Dust blowing from a hole in the ground
  • Continuous bubbling in wet or flooded areas
  • Dead or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area

What are the signs of a propane leak?

Propane is heavier than air. When propane escapes from a pipeline, it turns into a vapor and travels along the surface of the ground.

Signs of a propane leak include:

  • An unusual, sulfur-like odor
  • Blowing or hissing sound
  • Dust blowing from a hole in the ground
  • Continuous bubbling in wet or flooded areas
  • Dead or discolored vegetation in an otherwise green area
  • A dense white cloud of fog over a pipeline

What should I do if I suspect a natural gas or propane leak?

Do:

  • Alert others and leave the area immediately — heading upwind and/or uphill
  • From a safe location, call Duke Energy toll free at 1-800-634-4300
  • Call 911

Do not:

  • Try to determine the location of the leak
  • Try to stop the leak
  • Use any mechanical or electrical tools or devices in the area of the leak or suspected leak
  • Use anything in the area of the leak or suspected leak that may create a spark, including a cell phone