SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., April 2, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- This April, during National Safe Digging Month, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds customers to call 811 before starting any excavation project, large or small. Excavation damage is among the leading causes of pipeline accidents in the United States. In 2012, PG&E experienced over 1,000 incidents where a third party dug into its natural gas pipelines or electric power lines without calling 811.
Utility lines buried underground can lie just a few feet from the surface due to soil erosion or grading. Whether planting a tree, installing a sprinkler system or building a fence, homeowners and professional excavators need to know where these lines lie underground before digging to prevent injuries, property damage and outages.
Striking and damaging underground gas and electric lines creates a serious safety concern for the excavator and the public. It can also impact gas and electric service to homes, schools and hospitals in the community. What's more, repair costs billed to excavators can total several thousand dollars for damage to distribution lines and tens to hundreds of thousands for damage to larger transmission lines.
These accidents can be prevented with an easy call to 811, a free service that provides important information on where utilities exist beneath excavation areas.Calling 811 puts customers in direct contact with Underground Service Alert ( USA), which notifies local utility companies to mark the approximate location of their underground facilities in and around the excavation site, helping customers and contractors avoid them. Anyone can call USA from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for holidays. California law requires anyone doing excavation work to notify utilities at least two working days before digging. Requests will be accepted as early as 14 days in advance of an excavation. Once a request is received, the customer or contractor will receive a list of notified utilities that may have underground lines in the area.