Ready to Respond

Quick Response

Pipeline releases, while rare, do sometimes occur. When that happens, pipeline operators work together with local first responders, government agency representatives, and cleanup contractors to respond as quickly as possible, perform any cleanups, and then investigate what happened.

Firefighters preparing to respond to an emergency

What Happens During Emergency Response

All pipeline operators are required to have detailed emergency response plans describing how they will respond to any emergency. These plans can be quickly invoked to deploy containment equipment such as movable barriers and booms to limit the spread of a spill, followed by equipment such as vacuum trucks and steam cleaners to clean up the spill. A government On Scene Coordinator, such as from the U.S. Coast Guard or U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will help organize efforts.


Steps to Respond to an Incident:

  • Stop the leak by shutting down systems quickly and safely
  • Dispatch first responders and clean-up crews
  • Get spill response equipment to the site
  • Contain the released product to minimize spreading
  • Ensure the safety of the public, employees and contractors
  • Protect wildlife, water bodies and vegetation
  • Repair the pipeline
  • Clean up, remediate and restore the site
  • Long-term monitoring of the site to determine if any further action is required

Free Online Training

Pipeline operators have teamed up with the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) to offer free pipeline emergencies training for first responders. This “The Pipeline Emergency Training Portal” program, provided at no charge, is available online, 24/7. The program provides first responders access to information about what to expect in a pipeline emergency and how to respond effectively. The training is self-paced: participants progress through the online modules at a rate that is comfortable for their learning style and that accommodates their busy schedules.

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Firefighter assisting another firefighter by walking him through online training
Firefighters training

Training With Responders

Hands-on training provides the opportunity for first responders and operator personnel to be ready for a pipeline-related emergency.
Pipeline operators and firefighters working together


Each year, pipeline operators drill their personnel on emergency response techniques. Companies will host table-top sessions, equipment deployment drills, and full-scale exercises. The gatherings include operator and contractor personnel, local first responders and government officials to ensure everyone involved knows who to call, what to bring, and what to do in case of an emergency.
Line of fire extinguishers


Download resources supporting the free, online first responder training, describing priorities for managing a pipeline emergency and presenting the basics of pipeline operations.Learn More