SDG&E offers tips on spotting, responding to natural gas pipeline leaks

Media Contact:
Sabra Moallem

San Diego Gas & Electric

(877) 866-2066


        SAN DIEGO, Nov. 5, 2008 – As natural gas usage increases in the winter, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is stressing natural gas pipeline safety.  Though rare, leaks in natural gas pipelines can be caused by third-party contractors, hidden corrosion or natural disasters, and are highly flammable.

        SDG&E offers these safety tips: 

        • Most natural gas pipelines are buried underground, but only major pipeline routes are marked above ground with high-visibility markers.  These markers purposely indicate only the general – not exact – location of major pipelines usually found where a pipeline would intersect a street, highway or rail line.  However, most lower-pressure lines used to serve residential neighborhoods and businesses are not marked, which is why it’s important to know where they’re buried before digging for any reason. 
        • To ensure safety and to comply with California state law, call Underground Service Alert toll-free at 8-1-1 at least two workdays before digging to have utility lines marked at no cost.  To find out if there are pipelines located in a specific area, visit the National Pipeline Mapping System Web site at
        • Be aware of a “rotten egg” smell – the odor additive in natural gas to help identify leaks – or a hissing, whistling or roaring sound, as well as dead or dying vegetation, near a pipeline.

        If a leak is suspected:

        • Stay calm.
        • Don’t light a match, candle or cigarette, and don’t turn any electrical devices on or off, including light switches.
        • Leave the area where the leak is suspected and call SDG&E immediately at (800) 411-7343 or call the local fire department.

        Additional safety information is available on SDG&E’s Web site at

        SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe, reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and more than 840,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties.  The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles.  Exceptional customer service is a priority of SDG&E as it seeks to enhance the region’s quality of life.  SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.