Equitrans Midstream Corporation’s is committed to operating its entire pipeline system in a safe, reliable and environmentally sound manner. Our pipeline rights-of-way are regularly inspected by qualified personnel – and a clear and unobstructed right-of-way enables the Company to safely operate, patrol, inspect, maintain, and repair its pipelines.
Below is general information regarding pipeline rights-of-way and the maintenance of pipeline rights-of-way through effective clearing activities, which help Equitrans to safely operate and maintain its pipelines and associated facilities. In addition, we have provided valuable information (via page links to the right) regarding how to plan work near Equitrans pipelines; 811 Call Before You Dig; and a natural gas pipeline safety brochure.
What is a Pipeline Right of Way?
A pipeline right-of-way is a property right covering a piece of land with limited and specific uses that are conveyed by a right-of-way grant (sometimes called an easement) by the property owner(s) to a pipeline company. The right-of-way in most cases is used to construct, maintain, operate, protect, inspect, maintain and/or replace one or more pipelines. The written agreement creating the right-of-way grant is usually filed in the applicable county recorder’s office where deeds are filed. The right-of-way agreement typically provides for a permanent but limited interest in the land. Rights-of-way vary in width; however, a right-of-way width of 50 feet is common for Equitrans Midstream Corporation (ETRN), though it can be greater depending on whether there is one pipeline or multiple pipelines within the right-of-way.
The pipeline rights-of-way are often recognizable as corridors that are cleared of trees, buildings or other structures except for pipeline markers. Another thing you might see is fenced and secured areas with some above ground piping. These secured areas provide access to valves along the pipeline system.
Rights-of-way must be kept free of buildings, trees, storage materials and other obstructions. Right-of-Way Clearing, tree trimming, and removal are part of Equitrans Midstream’s routine maintenance and are necessary to maintain the integrity of the pipeline and to facilitate ground and aerial inspection. If a pipeline crosses your property, please do not plant trees or shrubs within the right-of-way. For your own safety and the safety of others, do not dig, store or place anything on or near the right-of-way without first having Equitrans personnel mark the location of the pipeline, stake the right-of-way and explain the Company’s construction guidelines to you.
Whether you are erecting a fence, doing landscaping or building a new home on or near a pipeline right-of-way, always call “811” or your local state One Call number at least three full business days in advance of your work. When a call is made, a trained technician will mark the location of the pipeline – and there is no cost to you for this service.
Pipeline Right of Way Maintenance and Clearing
Pipeline right-of-way clearing is an ongoing process that promotes the safe and efficient operation of the pipeline. Right-of-way clearing enables Equitrans Midstream Corporation to meet its complementary objectives of protecting the integrity of the pipeline, effectively responding to emergency situations, and increasing community awareness of the presence of its pipeline. Clearing the right-of-way of trees that threaten pipeline integrity helps ensure the safety of the surrounding community. A tree’s root system is drawn to warmth and moisture and often abnormal, excessive root growth patterns are experienced near pipelines. The clearing of any trees located within or near the pipeline is necessary because their roots within or approaching the right-of-way can wrap around the pipeline and damage its protective coating, causing pipeline corrosion.
Additionally, Equitrans needs direct and immediate access to its pipelines in order to enable a prompt response in the event of an emergency. In the event of a pipeline release, it is not possible to expeditiously and safely clear the trees away. With clear access to the pipeline, routine maintenance and repairs can be performed in a safe and efficient manner. A clear pipeline right-of-way also provides a visual marker that alerts the public to the pipeline’s presence and helps prevent unauthorized excavation and development within the right-of-way. Third-party “hits” are the number one cause of pipeline damage in the United States and Equitrans is committed to preventing such incidents.
In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in regulations governing inspection, maintenance and protection standards for pipelines. Accordingly, ETRN is continually improving its approach and techniques for proper pipeline damage prevention and protection which includes maintaining a clear right-of-way. Equitrans Midstream consistently assesses and updates its maintenance guidelines to ensure compliance with all appropriate standards. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires that pipeline rights-of-way be routinely patrolled to promote safe operations within an appropriately cleared right-of-way. Further, a clear pipeline right-of-way enables Equitrans to conduct aerial inspections to detect potential damage or product releases occurring near the pipeline and ensures a clear path for ground inspections of the right-of-way.