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Dealing With An Abandoned Pipeline On Your Property Or Potential Property

by Harry Martin

When purchasing a property you may find out there's an abandoned pipeline underneath it. In some cases, this can come up with land you already own. An abandoned pipeline can represent a future expense or a future problem if you have any plans for adding anything or building anything on the land. An improperly abandoned pipe can also represent a danger.

Why You Need to Know

There are various methods to abandoning a pipeline. If one is on your property, then you need to know how the abandonment process took place. Sometimes, it's possible the pipe abandonment occurred decades ago and didn't go through any official channels, such as the NEB.

In improperly abandoned pipeline can represent a danger to the land, the environment, the groundwater, and you. The pipe can have cracks and leaks. In some extreme cases, it's possible the pipeline is still carrying oil or gas and nobody knows it.

In cases where proper abandonment procedures occurred, the pipe can still represent a problem if you want to build over or by it. If you remove it or tamper with it in any way, you may find yourself in legal trouble. There's a good chance that it's still fully owned by some company or another.

Find and Peruse the Right of Way Agreement

At some point, somebody had to give permission to a utility company or private business to run the line through the property. This right of way agreement will say who owns the pipe and the strip of land. It will also spell out the length of agreement.

Abandonment doesn't always mean the company gave up rights to pipe and easement. The property seller should have the ability to give you a copy, or, you can find it on file with your province's land and property records office. You may even find out that there's some back-compensation owed according to the contracts terms of use.

It's possible the agreement ended a long time ago. That can help you have the previous owner remove the pipe, or seal it, at no cost to you. Or, you can have a pipeline grouting contractor do it without fear of legal trouble.

Pipeline grouting involves filling the pipe with concrete to seal it, often through a shotcrete method. It's often cheaper, and less time consuming, than pipe removal.

Hire a Professional 

In fact, a pipeline grouting contractor can also inspect the pipe. The inspection can tell you if the abandonment attempts were completed correctly. That can help you figure out whether the piping needs grouting, or outright removal. Improper abandonment can also give you ammunition if you're asking the owner, or previous owner, of the line to fund the grouting or removal.