FortisBC seeks to increase awareness of free BC One Call service during Safe Digging Month
SURREY, BC, April 23, 2013 /CNW/ - With the arrival of springtime comes yard work and other outdoor construction, it is important to note that the public's increased awareness of 'Call Before You Dig' has furthered the trend of more calls to BC One Call. Yet, despite the continuation of a six-year trend in a drop in construction-related damages to FortisBC's natural gas pipelines over the past year, 99 per cent of incidents remain preventable.
With April recognized as Safe Digging Month by the Government of Canada, FortisBC is reminding British Columbians that BC One Call is a free service they should use year-round, in the interest of their own and the public's safety, to help locate their underground utilities.
"It is very important for people to know the location of underground utilities before they dig," said Doyle Sam, executive vice president, network services, engineering and generation with FortisBC. "Making contact with underground utilities can cause serious injuries and service disruptions. And if a natural gas pipeline or electrical wire is damaged, it can also result in repair bills for those who were digging."
While there was an almost nine per cent decrease in the number of construction-related natural gas pipeline damages in 2012 compared to 2011, approximately 1,095 natural gas pipelines were still damaged in 2012. About 75 per cent of those damages did not dial BC One Call; the remainder did not follow safe digging practices. Provincial regulations require hand-digging to expose buried utility lines before digging with mechanical excavation equipment like an auger or a backhoe.
"We are committed to helping British Columbians work as safely as possible, encouraging all homeowners and contractors to call BC One Call. Additionally, contractors can take the 'Dig Safe BC!' workshop, which is supported by FortisBC and other utilities," said Gary Tremblay, executive director of BC One Call. "The program teaches diligent excavation practices, and we are excited to have seen more than 700 contractors province-wide attend these valuable sessions."
Provincial regulations also require excavators to obtain permission from FortisBC for any digging activities occurring within 30 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 by FortisBC 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, underground electrical wires and other utilities 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/safety or bconecall.bc.ca
FortisBC is a regulated utility focused on providing safe and reliable energy, including natural gas, electricity, propane and thermal energy solutions. FortisBC employs more than 2,200 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.