Natural Gas

Safety Resources for your Business


  • Hydrovacing

    What is hydrovacing?

    • Can safely replace hand-digging in the hand expose zone.
    • Combines water pressure and a vacuum to excavate.
    • Suits all sizes of projects.
    • Fast, easy and safe when done properly.
    • Works well during frozen ground conditions.


    • Use a wand tip and suction hose covered with Teflon® or rubber.
    • Keep wand in motion at all times, with the wand tip at least 0.3 metres (one foot) from the line.
    • The wand tip should have a three-jet tip or an agitating spinner assembly.
    • Do not exceed pressures of 1,500 PSI or temperatures of 60ºC.
    • Reduce pressure to finish exposing the gas line.
    • Damage to the pipe or coating must be reported to ATCO Gas.

    Hydrovac contractors

    • Must carry a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for natural gas and be aware of emergency procedures.
    • Cover and barricade all open holes and excavations.
    • Responsible for the public’s safety until inspection and backfilling is complete.
    • Responsible for major damage to a natural gas line – including costs of repair, gas loss, customer re-lights, and emergency response.
    • Minor damage to the gas line coating will be repaired at no charge to the contractor.
    • Must contact ATCO Gas immediately if damage occurs.
  • Mechanical Excavation

    Only after hand exposing

    • Hand expose the gas line first by shovel or hydrovac. 
    • You must see the line to verify its location and depth.
    • Only then can you use machines to excavate.


    Safety musts

    • Two workers should always be present – the machine operator and a spotter.
    • Remove small layers of soil at a time.
    • Dig parallel to the buried line. Stay at least 0.6 metres (2 feet) away from the line.
    • Watch the excavation at all times for movement (cable contact), soil consistency (trench line) or foreign objects identifying underground facilities.


  • Directional Drilling

     Perpendicular drilling

    • Expose the gas line by hand or hydrovac to create a day-lighted area.
    • This area should extend at least 0.3 metres (one foot) on all sides around and below the pipe – one metre (three feet) is better.
    • The drill path must cross under the pipe in this day-lighted area.
    • Keep a close watch on the area below the pipe to ensure the drill-head does not hit the gas line.
    • Watch during both the initial push and the pull-back.
    • Never assume the gas line will be at the same depth on either side of the day-lighted area.


    Parallel drilling

    • If drilling within one metre (three feet) of the outside edges of the natural gas locate marks, you must hand expose.
    • Hand shovel or hydrovac a number of points along the gas line.
    • Number of day-lighted points depends on the drill path and depth of the gas line.
    • At minimum, points must be exposed every 30 metres (98 feet) along the line.
    • For shorter jobs, points must be exposed more closely.
  • Temporary Support Systems

    What are temporary support systems?

    • Installed before excavating below a natural gas line.
    • Also used during the backfill.
    • Prevent gas lines from sagging, bending or deflecting.
    • Usually made of steel or wood.


    Is it always required?

    • Depends on the length of the gas line.
    • Contact your local ATCO Gas office.
    • We will walk you through the requirements, methods and materials.


    An ATCO Gas representative must inspect your temporary support systems.

  • Backfilling

    Call ATCO Gas

    • Before you backfill around a natural gas line.
    • If you discover a natural gas line with less than 0.6 metres (two feet) of cover.


    Contact your local ATCO Gas office.


    Other requirements

    • Compact the fill under the gas line to provide support.
    • Do not interfere with gas lines.
    • Do not add to the depth of cover without ATCO Gas’s permission.
    • Use clean, lump-free material to cover the line.
    • Do not place frozen dirt on the line.

New Homes and Buildings

Natural Gas

  • Polyethylene (PE)
    • Very common
    • A type of plastic pipe
    • Various colours: yellow, black, orange, peach
  • Steel
    • Appears as rough steel or coated (tar, grey paper, yellow jacket, blue, red, green)
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
    • A type of plastic pipe installed in the mid-1960s
    • Various colours: white, purple, grey, light blue, peach
    • ATCO Gas must supervise any excavation around PVC
    • Call your local ATCO Gas office if PVC is listed on your locate slip
    • Call two full working days ahead
  • Aluminum
    • Very rare
    • Appears as light grey metal or covered with a yellow jacket