Oil and natural gas pipelines crisscross Oklahoma and much of the country, transporting fuel and other products from production centers to storage centers, refineries and eventually to consumers.
The recent oil leak in Arkansas and the controversial Keystone XL project have drawn attention to the largest pipelines, which transport crude oil up and down the Plains, but thousands of other lines weave their way throughout the area.
Known as the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World,” Cushing is one of the largest crude oil transport and storage hubs in the country. A pipeline operator in Cushing once described the intricate infrastructure under the northeast Oklahoma community as “an upside-down bowl of spaghetti.”
The pipes that lead to and from Cushing cross throughout the state.
Besides the large pipelines, the underground landscape also is covered with thousands of smaller lines, including the distribution lines that bring natural gas to homes, neighborhoods, apartments and offices. Pipes also connect to the oil and natural gas wells that dot the Oklahoma City suburbs.
Utilities and pipeline operators often encourage people to call 811 before they dig for anything in their yards or around their businesses. Homeowners can accidentally cut one of the many dangerous pipelines under their property if they do not first call to have lines marked. More information is available at www.call811.com.
The Paradigm Alliance and its www.pipelinesafetyinfo.com this week released a pamphlet warning people what to do if they notice a pipeline leak.
The group warns that if there is a leak, anyone nearby should turn off any equipment that is operating and leave the area by foot immediately.
“Do not start motor vehicles or electrical equipment,” the group warns. “Do not ring doorbells to notify others of the leak. Knock with your hand to avoid potential sparks.”
Pipeline operators also warn that people unfamiliar with the pipelines should not attempt to operate any pipeline valves or to put out a petroleum product or natural gas fire.
“Wait for local firemen and other professionals trained to deal with such emergencies,” the group warned.