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Pipelines cross beneath us
Commission hears report from Northern Natural Gas
system map 082010
This map shows the extent of Northern Natural Gas pipeline network in the United States. Some of these lines run through Barton County. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

 One might be surprised at the number of pipelines that criss-cross Barton County and the rest of the state, said Greg Alexander of Northern Natural Gas. Most are underground, and out sight and out of mind.

Alexander presented an update on Northern’s natural gas pipelines to the County Commission Monday morning. He told commissioners his company operates six pipelines, ranging in size from six to 36 inches in diameter, totalling 100 miles in the county.

He said Northern’s Busthon Team maintains the lion’s share of these which run predominately east and west in the southern half of Barton County. Most are high-pressure lines that run three to five feet below the surface.

Safety is key, Alexander said. Everywhere a pipeline passes under a road, there is a sign noting the crossing with emergency contact information.

In additon, “we try to fly the pipelines at least twice per year,” he said. One of these trips incorporates LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure ranges to the Earth.

But, there is always a chance of a leak, he said. The gas surging through these pipelines is not “odorized” so there may be no smell, but there may be dead vegetation, bubbling water in a pond, blowing dirt or a hissing sound.

With any indication, people are urged to stay safe and call and report what find. The toll-free number is 888-367-6671, or someone can go to Northern’s website and click on the “safety” link.

Also, he stressed the importance of calling Kansas 811 Dig Safe number before drilling or digging to avoid striking a buried pipe.

Northern Natural Gas Company is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy based in Omaha, Neb., and has been in business since 1930. Northern owns and operates the largest interstate natural gas pipeline system in the United States. Northern’s pipeline system includes 14,700 miles of pipelines that stretches across 11 states, from the Texas panhandle to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, providing access to five of the major natural gas supply regions in North America.