SoCalGas, Orange County Fire Authority and the California Regional Common Ground Alliance Held Mock Natural Gas Line Digging Accident to Demonstrate Importance of Contacting 811 Before Excavation Work and Following Safe Digging Procedures

Simulated natural gas line damage incident brings attention to importance of proper procedures during any excavation project

Aug 9, 2019

LOS ANGELES, August 9, 2019 – To commemorate 8/11 Day (August 11), Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), The California Regional Common Ground Alliance (CARCGA) and Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) held a mock utility line strike to raise awareness about the importance of contacting 811 at least two working days (not counting the day of notification) prior to the start of any project that involves digging. When residents or contractors contact 811, utility companies will mark the locations of their underground lines to prevent them from being damaged, which could cause injury, death, service outages or costly repair bills for homeowners. Photos are available here.

"About 60 percent of pipeline damage due to digging is caused by homeowners or contractors who do not call 811 before they dig," said David Buczkowski, vice president of gas engineering and system integrity for SoCalGas. "They have no idea where buried natural gas pipelines, or electric lines, may be located, and that's not safe. By contrast, when people do call 811, most of these accidental dig-ins are preventable."

“On August 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners and professional excavators alike to contact 811 before digging to reduce the risk of striking an underground line,” said Ann Diamond, President of DigAlert and Secretary/Treasurer of CARCGA. “It really is the only way to know which utilities are buried in the area where you will be digging. Contacting 811 before digging is the single easiest step you can take toward reducing the chance of causing damage to buried lines.”

“Firefighters are often the first to arrive on the scene after someone damages an underground utility such as natural gas,” said Chief “Pokey” Sanchez, assistant chief of Orange County Fire Authority. “It’s important to make a free call to 811 before digging and avoid this emergency which ties up resources. And most importantly, it could save a life.”

The most important thing to do before performing any type of digging is to dial 811 or request a ticket online through contact811.com. Utility representatives will come to your excavation site for free to mark their underground infrastructure, including natural gas pipelines.

Today’s event program included the 811 Process, emergency response demonstration, investigation by the Dig Safe Board, Speakers from Dig Safe Board, Orange County Fire Authority, plus exhibitor booths. SoCalGas displayed a 30-foot-tall shovel to inform area residents about pipeline safety and raise awareness about the importance of contacting 811 before you dig.

811 is the national phone number designated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), that connects professionals and homeowners who plan to dig with a local call center. The call center collects information about the planned dig site and communicates with the appropriate utility companies, which then send professional utility locating technicians to identify and mark the approximate location of lines. Once utility lines have been marked, the resident or contractor may dig safely around the marks once the legal start date and time arrives. To submit a service ticket online, visit contact811.com.

SoCalGas customers should take the following steps when planning any digging project:

  • Mark out your proposed work area in white (paint, chalk, flour, flags, etc.).  
  • Contact 811 to submit an online location request to Underground Service Alert or dial 811 two working days (not counting the day of notification) before you start digging.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm the contractor contacted 811 to have the utilities mark their lines.
  • Wait to hear from us. We'll either come mark our natural gas lines, indicating pipe material and diameter, or let you know that the area is clear.
  • Remember that SoCalGas uses yellow paint to mark its lines.
  • If you need to dig within 24 inches of a marked utility line, use only hand tools to carefully expose the exact locations of the line before using any power excavation equipment in the area.
  • Report any pipe damage – no matter how big or how small – by contacting us immediately at 1-800-427-2200.
  • For more information on natural gas safety, visit: https://www3.socalgas.com/stay-safe

About SoCalGas

Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States. SoCalGas delivers affordable, reliable, clean and increasingly renewable natural gas service to 21.8 million customers across 24,000 square miles of Central and Southern California, where more than 90 percent of residents use natural gas for heating, hot water, cooking, drying clothes or other uses. Natural gas delivered through the company's pipelines also plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians—about 45 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.  

SoCalGas’ vision is to be the cleanest natural gas utility in North America, delivering affordable and increasingly renewable energy to its customers. In support of that vision, SoCalGas is committed to replacing 20 percent of its traditional natural gas supply with renewable natural gas (RNG) by 2030. Renewable natural gas is made from waste created by dairy farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. SoCalGas is also committed to investing in its natural gas system infrastructure while keeping bills affordable for our customers. From 2014 through 2018, the company invested nearly $6.5 billion to upgrade and modernize its natural gas system to enhance safety and reliability. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), an energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit socalgas.com/newsroom or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook.  

About California Regional Common Ground Alliance

The California Regional Common Ground Alliance (CARCGA) is a 501(c)(6) non-profit mutual benefit corporation dedicated to ensuring public safety, environmental protection, and the integrity of services by promoting effective underground damage prevention practices in California. CARCGA is a Regional Partner of the Common Ground Alliance (CGA). CARCGA promotes the use of CGA's Best Practices. CARCGA was incorporated in 2016 and boasts participation from a variety of industries involved in underground damage prevention.

As the premier underground damage prevention organization in California, CARCGA provides complete access to stakeholders who identify Best Practices that become industry standards. Lawmaking entities seek the advice and assistance of CARCGA for legislative development and amendments. Our efforts to promote education, awareness and compliance helps prevent damages to underground facilities, interruption to vital services, safety risks, accidents and fatalities. Damage prevention is a shared responsibility.

About Orange County Fire Authority

The Orange County Fire Authority is a regional fire-rescue service agency that serves 1.8 million residents in 23 cities and the unincorporated area of the county. The member jurisdictions include Aliso Viejo, Buena Park, Cypress, Dana Point, Irvine, La Palma, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Santa Ana, Stanton, San Juan Capistrano, Seal Beach, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster, Yorba Linda, and the County of Orange. There are 72 fire stations that cover 580 square miles.

For further information: Vanessa Skillman, SoCalGas, (213) 244-2442, vskillman@semprautilities.com Jon Muir, Orange County Fire Authority, 949-239-2776, jonmuir@ocfa.org Ann Diamond, DigAlert, 951-808-8113, ann@digalert.org