April is Safe Digging Month and FortisBC wants you to 'Call Before You Dig'

You should never guess where it's safe to dig

SURREY, BC, April 1, 2015 /CNW/ - April is Safe Digging Month, and along with the warmer weather, construction and landscaping are beginning across much of British Columbia. It's typically the time of year FortisBC begins to see a spike in the number of calls to repair damage to underground natural gas lines.

Damage to FortisBC's energy infrastructure could create potential safety hazards and often results in unplanned service outages. That's why FortisBC has long supported BC One Call – a free service that provides British Columbians with up-to-date information on underground pipes and wires.

"Last year was a groundbreaking year for BC One Call requests for our gas infrastructure, with the number of tickets processed surpassing 100,000 for the first time. More than ever before British Columbians are taking steps to avoid damaging underground utilities," said Doyle Sam, executive vice-president, operations and engineering, FortisBC.

"We want people to keep up that momentum because you should never try to guess where it's safe to dig. Stay safe and call before you dig," he said.

Ninety-nine per cent of damage to FortisBC's natural gas system is caused by third parties such as construction crews, contractors and homeowners. The vast majority of those incidents could be prevented by calling BC One Call and following safe digging procedures.

"If you're planning to dig, take the time to call or to click on BC One Call's website to receive all information from participating utilities in your area," said Gary Tremblay, executive director of BC One Call.

Beyond the potential safety hazards, damage to energy infrastructure can be costly.

If proper digging practices are not followed and BC One Call isn't consulted, whoever damaged the underground infrastructure could be on the hook for the full cost of the repairs. Often, the bills are thousands of dollars.

FortisBC provides safety regulators like the BC Safety Authority and WorkSafeBC with detailed findings from gas line damages and electrical contacts. FortisBC also uses that information to remind the public to use BC One Call. As a founding member of the BC Common Ground Alliance, FortisBC also raises awareness about safe excavation practices, in line with other underground utilities and services such as telephone, cable, and sewage.

For more information on gas line safety and safe excavation practices, please visit fortisbc.com/safety or bconecall.bc.ca. Watch our "Call Before You Dig" video at youtu.be/SppxQqNDUZI.

Call Before You Dig

Whether you're installing a fence or doing some landscaping, be safe this spring. Always call BC One Call before you dig and they'll notify the appropriate utility companies, including FortisBC. Then, we'll provide you with natural gas line location information.

1. Call BC One Call at 1-800-474-6886 or cellular *6886.

2. Once you receive natural gas information, review it before digging so you know the requirements for working near buried gas lines.

3. If you're still not sure where to dig, or don't understand the information, call us at 1-888-822-6555.

Never guess where it's safe to dig. Learn more at fortisbc.com/digsafe.

FortisBC is a regulated utility focused on providing safe and reliable energy, including natural gas, electricity and propane. FortisBC employs more than 2,200 British Columbians and serves approximately 1.1 million customers in 135 B.C. communities. FortisBC owns and operates two liquefied natural gas storage facilities and four regulated hydroelectric generating plants, approximately 7,150 kilometres of transmission and distribution power lines, and approximately 46,000 kilometres of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. FortisBC Inc. and FortisBC Energy Inc. do business as FortisBC. FortisBC is indirectly, wholly owned by Fortis Inc., a leader in the North American electric and gas utility business. Fortis Inc. shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and trade under the symbol FTS. Additional information can be accessed at www.fortisinc.com or www.sedar.com.

SOURCE FortisBC

For further information: MEDIA CONTACT: David Wylie, Corporate Communications, FortisBC, Phone: 250-469-8119, Email: David.Wylie@fortisbc.com, fortisbc.com, twitter.com/fortisBC, youtube.com/fortisBC; Gary Tremblay, Executive Director, BC One Call Ltd., Phone: 250-537-1559, Cell: 604-230-6122

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