Union Gas urges all parties to come together to pass Ontario One Call Act

Single call utility locate system will save lives, reduce costs and improve efficiency

CHATHAM, ON, Nov. 24, 2011 /CNW/ - Ontario should move to pass the Ontario One Call Act - a bill that will improve safety, save money and increase productivity - says Union Gas, one of Canada's largest natural gas utilities and a long-time advocate for this kind of mandatory legislation.

The Private Members' Bill was jointly introduced in the legislature today by Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey and Hamilton East-Stoney Creek MPP Paul Miller - giving it the support of both the Progressive Conservative and NDP caucuses and signaling the kind of bipartisan cooperation necessary in a minority government. The introduction of a similar bill before the recent provincial election received much support, but could not be passed before the legislative session ended.

The Ontario One Call Act would make it mandatory for all utility asset owners and excavators to use a single call system to locate all underground utility lines before digging. If passed, the bill would establish Ontario One Call Ltd., now a not-for-profit call centre, as the single point of contact for all underground utility locate services in the province.

In addition to the risk of a public emergency and the inconvenience of utility outages, economic analysts conservatively estimate that damages caused by excavators who don't call before they dig cost utility customers, municipalities and taxpayers about $39 million a year. There are significant additional costs related to dispatching emergency services to incidents, liability related to injuries and/or fatalities, and interruptions to business.

"Today in Ontario, an excavator may need to call up to 13 different phone numbers to locate all utility lines near a dig site," said Paul Rietdyk, Vice President, Distribution Operations for Union Gas.  "As a result, critical steps are being missed. A single, mandatory one call system, which requires all asset owners to register their infrastructure, would give excavators one simple telephone number they can use to determine exactly where all utility lines are located before they dig."

Public and worker safety are at serious and significant risk when utility lines such as buried natural gas pipelines and hydro lines are struck or damaged because homeowners, building contractors and other excavators do not obtain the precise location of these lines before they dig. Last year alone, there were almost 3,200 natural gas line breaks in Ontario. 

"A mandatory one call system will increase public safety, save money and improve productivity - all at the same time," added Rietdyk. "It's a win-win-win, and the Ontario government should move quickly to pass this important legislation now."

In the United States, mandatory one call systems have been implemented in all 50 states, where damages caused by digging incidents plummeted by 70 per cent over a four-year period.

About Union Gas

Union Gas Limited is a major Canadian natural gas storage, transmission and distribution company based in Ontario with 100 years of experience and service to customers. The distribution business serves 1.3 million residential, commercial and industrial customers in more than 400 communities across Ontario. Union Gas's growing storage and transmission business offers premium storage and transportation services to customers at the Dawn Hub, the largest underground storage facility in Canada and one of the largest in North America.  It offers customers an important link in the movement of natural gas from Western Canadian and U.S. supply basins to markets in central Canada and the northeast U.S. A Spectra Energy (NYSE: SE) company, Union Gas has assets of $5.6 billion and approximately 2,200 employees. Visit uniongas.com for more information.

SOURCE Union Gas Limited

For further information:

Union Gas Limited:
Andrea Stass
Manager, External Affairs and Media Relations
Ph: 1-800-571-8446 ext. 5490
Cell: 519-365-1010

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