SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is reminding customers to make a free call to 811 to have underground utility lines marked prior to every digging project, no matter the size of the job. California State law requires all excavation jobs are marked before work begins, including planting a tree or installing a new mailbox. Last year, contractors and homeowners in PG&E's service area were responsible for more accidental gas dig-ins — where natural gas pipelines are struck during excavation projects – than in the previous year. In 2013, there were 1,799 third party dig-ins compared to 2012, which had 1,536 third party dig-ins across PG&E's service area.
Every three minutes nationwide, an underground utility line is damaged during a digging project. These accidents can happen in a residential backyard, not just on heavy construction projects.
"We're seeing an increase in construction projects – from backyard improvements to major development – thanks to an improving economy. Unfortunately, we're also experiencing a dangerous uptick in the number of incidents where our gas and electric lines are damaged, which is a significant public safety risk," said Jesus Soto Jr., Senior Vice President of Engineering, Construction and Operations at PG&E. "Whether you're building a deck, trenching or planting a tree, calling 811 is easy, free and required by state law," he added.
Striking a single utility line can lead to injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient service outages. Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811.A call to 811 connects homeowners and contractors to Underground Service Alert ( USA). This free service notifies utility companies about any type of excavation project. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, spray paint or both. PG&E offers these tips for a safe excavation:
- Call 811 at least 2 working days before and up to 14 calendar days in advance of an excavation or digging project.
- Customers will receive a list of notified utilities that may have underground lines in the area. If you believe a utility may not have marked its lines, call 811 again to notify USA.
- On paved surfaces, mark the proposed excavation area with white chalk-based paint. Homeowners can also use other white substances such as sugar or flour.
- On unpaved surfaces use flags or stakes to mark the proposed excavation area.
- Carefully hand excavate within 24 inches on either side of a utility-marked facility. Digging even a few inches can pose some risks of striking a utility line.
- Be careful not to erase facility marks while working. If you cannot see the markings, call 811 and request a remarking.
- 811 requests are active for 28 days. Notify USA if work continues beyond that time.
- Immediately notify utilities about any type of contact or damage to wires or pipes.
- If there is any damage to PG&E electric wires or gas pipelines, or if there is a possible gas leak, take these steps:
- Move to a safe location
- Call 911
- Call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000