DOT ERG Background

Time: 6:30am
Local Weather: Damp morning with a moderate wind blowing SW.


Greenville is a community of 87,000. There is a commercial airport and an Air National Guard Base located approximately 25 miles north of the community.

There is an early morning leak in a pipeline that primarily carries petroleum products. The pipeline runs along a railroad right of way which is periodically within a 1,000 feet of a major river. There are two remotely controlled block valves on the line. One is at mile post 16 (16 miles from the terminal) and the other is at mile post 38. The leak is in a 10 inch pipe at approximately mile post 35. The pipeline at the terminal pumps at 1200 psi.


The Greenville Fire Department is a combination fire department with career and volunteer responders. The career department has a full complement of 65 firefighters and officers. There are three volunteer houses. Each has 20-30 members. Each volunteer can bring 3 men to the scene in one vehicle. Seven additional men will arrive in their own vehicles.

The career fire department is responding with two engines, a ladder truck, and a chief officer. There are 10 men in total. The third volunteer company is also responding to the initial call with 3 men. There are an additional two volunteer engines and 8 men at the station, ready to respond.

The total response for the community can include up to 55 men in an “all call”. Mutual Aid will bring 50 responders in 20-30 minutes and 100 additional responders within 2 hours.


The Greenville Police Department has 12 officers on duty at the time of the event and 5 state or county troopers in the area. The Greenville emergency plan can provide 100 additional law enforcement officers within an hour. A Greenville police officer is first on the scene and three other officers are on the way. There is also a Greenville Police Department Supervisor on scene to determine if more law enforcement personnel are needed.

Background ^
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IntroductionProceed »

Map of Greenville

Use the tabs on the left to learn important information you will need when responding to this scenario.

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The 6 P's of Emergency PlanningProceed »

Policy - OverviewProceed »

The Six P’s of Emergency Planning

Internal and external guidance for decisions - public or private

Hazard and risk assessment, coordination and cooperation

Monitoring, pipeline maintenance, ROW inspections

Standard operating procedures for normal and emergency response in the event of an accident

Training, emergency operation experience

Drills, exercises and critiques

Policy - OverviewProceed »

Policy - CommunicationProceed »

Policy - Everyone Has Questions

Type in your questions below.

Prevention - Monitor, Maintain & InspectProceed »

"Never let it leak!
The pipeline industry focuses enormous attention on preventing accidental excavation of pipelines. Statistics show the number one way product is accidently released is “dig-ins." Programs such as Call Before You Dig and Dig Safely are aimed at preventing or mitigating risks from pipelines.

Roll over the images below for more information on these measures.

The CGA has established best practices for all stakeholders involved in the excavation process. These include underground facility owners (electric, telephone, cable TB, gas and hazardous liquid pipelines, and water and sewer operators), excavators, locating companies, government agencies and one-call centers.

Over 65% of the damage caused to a pipeline is done by third party dig-ins. This includes contractors, home owners and others failing to call 811 before they dig and then hitting a pipeline. State and federal laws require a person to call a local area one-call center at least 2-3 days prior to beginning excavation.

Pipeline rights-of-way are inspected by the pipeline operator by airplane and helicopter, on foot and by vehicle. These inspections monitor for encroachment, excavation activities and signs of releases such as discoloration of the vegetation.

The pipeline industry uses internal inspection devices sometimes referred to as "smart pigs" that travel through the pipeline and record numerous details about the condition of the pipe. Smart pigs are used to detect corrosion, possible leaks, dents, and other potential integrity issues. The pipeline operator uses this information to address and correct any potential defects.

Cathodic protection is designed to prevent corrosion. Pipeline operators run an electrical current of very low voltage along the outside of the pipeline. This current repels negative ions that could potentially lead to external pipe corrosion.

Preparedness - CooperationProceed »

Getting the Word Out

Pipeline operator outreach programs inform community officials and emergency responders of the locations, rights of way, products, hazards and risks of pipelines in your community.

These meetings will cover:

  • What pipelines are in the area
  • How to use markers to identify a pipeline
  • Methods for coordination with the pipeline operator on how to respond to releases
  • Potential hazards and their consequences
  • Hazard and risk assessment
  • Emergency response procedures
  • Where to go for more information


The National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) will help local officials locate the general location of pipelines in the area and a telephone number for additional information.

Pipelines NearbyTM

This application provides information for the five member pipelines closest to a specific location.

PIPELINES NEARBY does NOT include all pipelines and will NOT satisfy the legal requirement to notify 811 before excavating.

The “Identified Site Emergency Planning Application” (ISEPA) provides emergency response agencies detailed information about pipelines in their jurisdiction including an initial evacuation distance from the line during an emergency.

Planning - Makes Coordination EasierProceed »

Scenario - OverviewProceed »

A Greenville 911 dispatcher receives a call from the public reporting a possible pipeline leak somewhere in the industrial area of the community. The pipeline runs through an industrialized warehouse district with multiple commercial operations ranging from storage, production, manufacturing, and even some renovated loft apartments. The dispatcher immediately notifies the police officer in the area to investigate.

While driving through the commercial area the officer reports smelling “oily” odors. Another officer reports an unusual odor in the vicinity of River and Brody. The pipelines in this area run through the city along a railroad right of way that carries both passenger and commercial traffic. One of the officers reports hearing hissing noises escaping from vents on either side of the right of way where it crosses the road. As the sun comes up, the officer also reports seeing some type of waves in the air and states the noise is intensifying, and there might be some liquid on the ground.

More 911 phone calls reporting smells and unusual odors are beginning to come in from the commercial area. It now appears from the reports that the release is migrating throughout the area with different levels of concentrated odors. The buildings are one and two story mixed industrial buildings, some are occupied and others are closed and boarded up. Some properties have basements, but not all. There is also a sewer system with storm drains that quickly lead to a storm water detainment area before it dumps into the river.

ProceduresProceed »

Procedures - Learning Check #1 Markers & ROW

We know there is a release. The officer on location is faced with gas coming from the vents on either side of the road. He has stopped traffic.

What can the officer immediately do or use to identify the product?

Call the dispatcher
Find a pipeline marker in a safe location and read the product on the label
Call the number on the right of way marker for information
Call Chemtrec
Assume it is an unknown hazardous materials and begin evacuating the immediate area based on DOT ERG 111

Procedures - Learning Check #2 Evacuation Distances

What would you use to determine initial distances?

The distances described on the pipeline marker
The distances in the DOT ERG for the chemical
The distance for pipeline releases in the community emergency response plan
Look up the chemical leaking by the DOT UN ID number on the pipeline marker
Call the pipeline operator
DOT ERG – Guide 111

Performance - Learning Check #3 Safety Zones Part A

Listen to the Dispatcher and Select the appropriate distance on the questions below Using the DOT ERG.

Your initial evacuation should be to what distance?

100 feet
330 feet
5280 feet
2640 feet

For a large scale release, to what distance should you evacuate?

100 feet
330 feet
5280 feet
2640 feet

Performance - Learning Check #4 Safety Zones Part B

The DOT ERG provides information for protective actions, evacuations and public safety distances. However, in emergency response, tactical zones are usually described as hot, warm, or cold. Standard distances like one block, 100 meters, or 1/2 mile are common.

How can responders develop more concise measurments of the hazard in order to define the tactical zones?

Use the DOT ERG
Monitor the hazard area with meters
Check for odor
Look for any biological or physical evidence
Contact the pipeline operator's personnel

Using MetersProceed »

  • Are your meters used effectively?
  • Who has access to the meters?
  • Where are they located?
  • Do meters match the hazard?
  • Have you trained with meters?
  • Are you practiced using them?

Follow the PlanProceed »

Practice Does Make PerfectionProceed »

Planning is the Heart of the Plan

Training Scenario #6 - Highly Volatile Liquid Pipeline Release