Fewer pipelines hit in 2011, but 99 per cent of incidents still preventable
SURREY, BC, April 26, 2012 /CNW/ - A greater public awareness of the need to 'Call Before You Dig' has continued to help increase the number of calls to BC One Call, which in turn has led to a drop in construction-related damages to FortisBC's natural gas pipelines and fewer contacts with underground power lines in 2011.
"Digging without knowing the location of underground utilities can cause serious injuries and service disruptions and result in paying repair costs if a natural gas pipeline or electrical wire is damaged. The best way to avoid causing damage to underground natural gas pipelines or electrical wires during any excavation is to first call BC One Call," said Dwain Bell, vice president, operations, FortisBC.
"We also encourage all contractors to take programs such as the "Dig Safe BC!" workshops, which are supported by FortisBC and other utilities. Programs like these are great ways to learn safe excavation practices," he adds.
April is designated as Safe Digging Month by the Government of Canada. British Columbians are reminded to 'Call Before You Dig' in the interest of their own and the public's safety.
While there has been an encouraging eight per cent decrease in the number of construction-related natural gas pipeline damages in 2011, approximately 1,200 natural gas pipelines were still damaged as some excavators did not call BC One Call to obtain the location of natural gas lines and follow safe excavation practices. About 70 per cent of those damages did not have mapping information from BC One Call. Provincial regulations require hand-digging to expose buried utility lines before digging with mechanical excavation equipment like an auger or a backhoe.
Provincial regulations also require excavators to obtain permission from FortisBC for any digging activities occurring within 40 metres of the utility's intermediate pressure or transmission natural gas pipelines. Depending on the scope of work being done, FortisBC will outline conditions that must be met before work can begin, which could include FortisBC employees being on site during the excavation.
Information on the location of underground natural gas pipelines and electrical wires is provided free of charge. If natural gas lines still cannot be found after calling BC One Call and digging by hand, the public is encouraged to call FortisBC directly at 1-888-822-6555 for assistance. The public is strongly urged to follow these steps to stay safe around gas and underground electrical lines:
- Call BC One Call toll-free at 1-800-474-6886 (or *6886 from any cell phone) at least three business days before you start excavation. This is a requirement of FortisBC and provincial gas safety regulations. BC One Call will contact its members with underground facilities in the excavation area, who will then provide the caller with the requested information at no cost.
- Have all location information on site and refer to it during the excavation.
- Use the information to locate and mark lines and maintain the markings until digging is underway.
- HAND DIG FIRST to locate and carefully expose natural gas pipelines and underground electrical wires before using mechanical equipment.
FortisBC provides safety regulators like the BC Safety Authority and WorkSafeBC with detailed findings from pipeline 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 pipeline safety and safe excavation practices, please visit fortisbc.com or bconecall.bc.ca.
FortisBC is an integrated energy solutions provider focused on providing safe and reliable energy, including natural gas, electricity, propane and alternative energy solutions, at the lowest reasonable cost. FortisBC employs more than 2,300 British Columbians and serves approximately 1.1 million customers in more than 135 B.C. communities. FortisBC is indirectly wholly owned by Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada. FortisBC owns and operates four regulated hydroelectric generating plants, approximately 7,000 kilometres of transmission and distribution power lines and approximately 47,000 kilometres of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines. FortisBC Inc., FortisBC Energy Inc., FortisBC Energy (Vancouver Island) Inc., and FortisBC Energy (Whistler) Inc. do business as FortisBC. 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.
For further information:
BC One Call Ltd.