Pipelines and Excavations FAQs

TSSA regulates the safety of oil and gas pipelines in the province of Ontario, including the design, operation, maintenance, safety, and integrity of pipelines. As Ontario’s pipeline-safety regulator, TSSA is committed to the goal of ensuring the safety of all oil and gas pipeline infrastructure in the province, including the many underground pipeline networks that provide fuel for our homes. 

Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about pipelines and excavations.

  • How many pipeline strikes happen every year?

    Pipeline strikes are one of the most common types of incidents reported to TSSA annually, with about 2,300 reported incidents per year on average. Most incidents are attributed to excavation activities taking place without proper permission. 

    The number of pipeline strikes reported more than doubles in the spring and summer months—from May to October—when most outdoor construction projects requiring digging usually take place. 

    TSSA is taking steps to address this hazard and reduce the number of incidents.

  • What are my regulatory obligations as an excavator?

    Section 9 of Ontario Regulation 210/01: Oil and Gas Pipeline Systems states, “no person shall dig, bore, trench, grade, excavate or break ground with mechanical equipment or explosives without first ascertaining from the licence holder the location of any pipeline that may be interfered with.”

    Section 10 of O. Reg 210/01 states, “No person shall interfere with or damage any pipeline without authority to do so.”

    Generally, this means that for an Ontarian to engage in “ground disturbance” activities like digging, boring, trenching, piercing the ground, or excavating, the person should obtain a “locate form” from a locator.

    The person or company engaging in ground disturbance will be asked to provide information describing the location where the work will take place, the expected time when the work will begin, the scope of the work, the nature of the work, the expected duration and depth of excavation, the name, address and telephone number of the Excavator, and the name of the Excavator’s site representative.

  • What is a locate?

    A locate provides information from the locator in the form of ground surface paint markings and underground infrastructure location documentation, such as drawings, mapping, numeric descriptions, or other written documentation. A locator is a person authorized by the owner of the underground infrastructure to perform a locate and issue a locate form or a clearance to the excavator. 

    Locators use electromagnetic fields, signals, or other acceptable industry best practice methods, together with the information provided by the owner of the underground infrastructure, to identify the location of that underground infrastructure.

  • What is Ontario One Call and how do I contact them for a locate?

    Ontario One Call is a service-oriented regulator that receives excavation locate requests to ensure homeowners, excavators and infrastructure owners are safe when digging.

    Ontario One Call notifies infrastructure owners (members) of excavation requests. These members then deliver locates, minimizing the risk of infrastructure damage, loss of utilities, injury, and monetary consequences.

    You can contact Ontario One Call by telephone at 1-800-400-2255 or visit their website at Ontario One Call – Click Before You Dig.

  • What should I do if I accidentally strike a pipeline or witness a pipeline strike?

    If you have accidentally struck a pipeline, immediately call 911 and the gas company concerned. 

    If you have witnessed a pipeline strike, please call the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Energy Spills Action Centre (SAC) to report the incident at 1-866-663-8477. An inspector will be assigned to further assess pipeline-strike incidents reported to TSSA via SAC. 

    In the event of a pipeline strike: 

    • Do not attempt to stop the flow. 
    • Shut off all equipment within the work area. 
    • Instruct local homeowners to keep doors and windows closed. 
    • Keep a distance from the struck pipeline. 
    • Do not smoke or have any ignition sources.