Damage prevention

Prevent damage to pipelines

CER regulations apply to any activity that disturbs the soil near federally regulated pipelines.

Everyone is responsible for preventing damage to pipelines. To be safe near a pipeline:

  • Learn where the pipelines are in your area: look for marker signs and check land records for easements.
  • Go to Click Before You Dig or call a one-call notification service in your area to have a technician mark the exact location of buried pipes and cables.
  • Plan ahead. It takes time to get pipelines located and to get consent from the pipeline company if needed.

Who this is for

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Landowners icon over top of an image depicting aerial view
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This page is for: landowners (residential and commercial), residents, lease holders, Indigenous rights holders, and any others with property rights near pipelines.

Activities: digging, trenching, fencing, tree planting, operating vehicles, building structures.

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This page is for: farmers, ranchers, market gardeners, tree farmers, sod growers, landscapers, orchardists, vineyard operators, and other agricultural producers.

Activities: deep tillage, tilling, laser-levelling, sub-soiling, building fences, installing irrigation.

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This page is for municipalities, counties, Indigenous governing bodies, and any other local, provincial, or federal agencies

Activities: road building, trenching, ditching, fencing, building water and sewage utilities, tree planting, drainage projects, ploughed-in pipe, horizontal directional drilling, approving large construction projects

Contractors icon over top of an image depicting a dug trench ready for the installation of pipelines
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This page is for any company, contractor or person working near a pipeline.

Activities: excavation, fencing, augering, ploughed in pipe, and horizontal directional drilling.

Icon over top of an image depicting a crawler crane with side boom installing pipeline into dug trench
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This page is for federally regulated pipeline companies.

Regulations, Guidance Notes, and links to full regulations are on this page.

What is the safety zone

Right pf way – Pipelines where you live and work

The safety zone (called the prescribed area in regulations), defined in the Damage Prevent Regulations (DPR) – Authorizations, extends 30 meters to each side from the centreline of the pipe. It is an area where extra precautions and authorization (written consent of the pipeline company or an Order issued by the Commission) is required before certain activities can occur.

Details about the safety zone and a description of the right-of-way...

Some federally regulated pipelines were buried at least 60 cm (2 feet) below the surface when they were constructed, and at least 130 cm (51 in) below travelled roads. Other pipes and cables may be at shallower depths. However, ground settling, erosion, and other activities can reduce the soil depth over the pipe. As a result, regulations restrict excavation such as digging or augering 30 cm (12 in) and deeper in the safety zone. The pipeline company may also notify you that certain areas must not be crossed with vehicles or equipment because they could affect safety or security.

The pipeline company will give you special instructions and provide oversight on how to dig very close to the pipe. In the regulations, this is within 3 m of the pipe. For safety, the pipeline company may have a larger area.

Even a small nick in the pipe’s coating can cause corrosion and hazards for your safety, those around you, and the environment. Contact the pipeline company immediately if any equipment contacts the pipe.

Pipeline signs or markers are placed at visible locations along the pipeline route (in the right-of-way). The signs let you know that there are pipelines in the area, but they do not show the exact location of the pipeline.

Pipelines, utilities, and governments across Canada support one-call centres. One-call notification centres notify registered members (example: federally regulated pipeline companies), who send out technicians to map and mark all buried pipelines and cables in a planned work area. Go to Click Before You Dig for links to the one-call notification services in your region. Federally regulated pipelines must be located within 3 days.

Right-of-way definition

The right-of-way is the strip of land for which a company has obtained the right to construct and operate a pipeline. The width of the right-of-way varies according to the size, routing, and number of lines. The area of the right-of-way is usually smaller than the safety zone. The pipe may not be in the exact centre of the right-of-way. If there is more than one pipeline in the right-of-way, the safety zone is measured from the outermost pipelines on each side.

For those living and working near pipelines

Know what’s below. In addition to federally regulated pipelines, there may be other provincially and locally regulated pipelines and cables in your area. These facilities may include oil and gas field gathering pipes, gas distribution systems, fibre-optic cables, water and sewer lines, and electrical cables.

Click more to see the steps to take before starting any activity that disturbs the soil 30 cm (12 in) or deeper below the surface.

  1. Don’t just dig. Plan ahead. It takes time to locate the pipes and cables and to get written consent, if needed.
  2. Look for pipeline marker signs in your area, and check land records for easements.
  3. Contact Click Before You Dig or a one-call notification centre to locate underground pipes and cables. In the Territories, contact the pipeline company or utility owner directly. You may need to be on site when the technician comes.
  4. Get written consent from the pipeline company before any ground disturbance that is 30 cm (12 in) or deeper.
  5. You must give everyone the safety information they need: contractors, subcontractors, family members, volunteer helpers, and employees. To learn more, read Your Field Responsibilities.

Other Resources

Guidance Notes — Regulations for Pipeline Damage Prevention

Damage prevention resources

Organizations across Canada have joined to help you plan your work safely. Click any of the logos below to visit their sites and find out how they can help you.

Dig Safe Logo
Click Before You Dig Logo
Canadian Common Ground Alliance Logo

Contact damage prevention

If you have questions or would like to provide feedback on the regulations or guidance for pipeline damage prevention, please contact us at DPinfo@cer-rec.gc.ca. When communicating with CER employees, you are encouraged to use the official language of your choice.

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