Up to 70 per cent of gas line hits in BC would be prevented by phoning BC One Call



    SURREY, BC, March 12 /CNW/ - Classes were well underway at the Broadway
Campus of Vancouver Community College one morning last month, when more than
3,000 students were told to evacuate because an excavator had struck an
underground natural gas pipeline.
    The needed repairs meant students and staff lost most of the school day
and 77 Terasen Gas customers had their service temporarily interrupted.
However, if excavators had used safe excavation practices as set out by B.C.
provincial safety regulations - including the practice of hand digging within
one meter of the gas line - this incident would not have happened.
    "Unfortunately the Vancouver Community College incident is not isolated.
In 2007, Terasen Gas experienced 1,739 incidents affecting our pipeline system
and totalling more than $1.3 million in repairs," said Dwain Bell, Terasen
Gas, vice president of distribution. "Terasen Gas tracks and reviews every one
of these incidents to better understand the cause of system damage. Each year
we provide the findings to our safety regulators and use the information to
plan and implement our public awareness activities encouraging safe excavation
practices and reminding people to call BC One Call. Callers not only receive
gas line locate information, but also underground infrastructure information
of all BC One Call members for their dig area."

    
    Each time a gas line is hit, Terasen Gas arrives on site to ensure public
safety and make repairs. Of the hit lines we responded to last year:

    -   70 per cent happened because people failed to call BC One Call for
        gas line information
    -   20 per cent did call and had the location information for a gas line,
        but failed to use safe excavation practices such as hand digging
    -   10 per cent called, had location information and hand dug, but other
        construction activity resulted in damage
    -   less than one per cent of incidents occurred because of incorrect gas
        line location information
    

    As well, Terasen Gas responded to 250 emergency calls province-wide that
resulted from leaks to a home or business owners' piping, car accidents, storm
damage or fire.
    The rise in excavation-related incidents from 2006 to 2007 can be
attributed to an increase in construction activity. This is partly measured by
Terasen Gas' new service installations and housing starts but the cause of
incidents has not changed.
    "We've long supported BC One Call," said Bell. "As a founding member of
the Common Ground Alliance, we work with other members to ensure the digging
community uses the best practices when digging around all underground
utilities."
    Being safe means getting underground gas line information at least three
days before digging. Call BC One Call at 1-800-474-6886 or (*)6886 on your
cellular. BC One Call will contact all member organizations with underground
utilities, including Terasen Gas, in the dig area. Call at lease three
business days in advance. This is a requirement of provincial gas safety
regulations. The call and the information are free.
    Once you have the location information, keep it on site during
excavation. Use the information to locate the gas line and then hand dig to
expose the line before using any mechanical equipment. If you hand dig and
can't find the buried gas line, or need further clarification, call Terasen
Gas at 1-888-822-6555.
    So always Call Before You Dig to avoid the dangers and costs of hitting
an underground line. For more information, visit www.terasengas.com or visit
www.bconecall.bc.ca.

    Terasen Gas is mainly composed of the operations of Terasen Gas Inc. and
Terasen Gas (Vancouver Island) Inc., both indirect wholly owned subsidiaries
of Fortis Inc. Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in
Canada, serves two million gas and electric customers and has more than
$10 billion of assets. Its regulated holdings include Terasen Gas and electric
utilities in five Canadian provinces and three Caribbean countries. Fortis
Inc. owns non-regulated hydroelectric generation assets across Canada and in
Belize and upper New York State. It also owns hotels and commercial real
estate in Canada. Fortis Inc. shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange
and trade under the symbol FTS. Additional information can be accessed at
http://www.fortisinc.com/ or http://www.sedar.com/.





For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Joyce Wagenaar, Corporate
Communications Manager, Phone: (604) 592-7682, E-mail:
joyce.wagenaar@terasengas.com; BC One Call contact: Gary Tremblay, Executive
Director, Phone: (604) 230-6122

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