Your Yard Needs Work? First, Call 8-1-1
Posted August 9, 2019
Do you know what’s below? If not, dial before you dig.
This Sunday, August 11th is National 8-1-1 Day, a date promoting the awareness of buried pipelines and utilities as you break ground on projects around your home. Careful consideration – and one quick call – can go a long way toward keeping you and your property safe.
By calling 8-1-1 before digging, you can prevent dangerous outages of services that your family and neighbors depend on, including electricity, gas, water and sewage, cable TV and high-speed internet. It’s important to give the operator a few days to clearly mark the location of underground utility lines prior to moving any earth – even for small projects – as this reduces the risk of striking lines that may impact entire neighborhoods or require costly repairs.
Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer repairing a mailbox, or a professional contractor rebuilding a home, you should call 8-1-1 before you begin. While the advance notice timeframe varies by state, here’s what to expect when making the call:
- Call 8-1-1 from anywhere in the U.S. a few days (typically 48 to 72 hours) prior to digging;
- Tell the operator where and why you’re digging – the conversation will be quick;
- Within a few days, a utility locator will arrive onsite to mark the location of underground lines, pipes and cables with flags or spray paint – all at no cost to you;
- Once they’ve responded to your request, you can dig carefully around your home.
An underground utility line is damaged every nine minutes because someone decided to dig without calling 8-1-1. Because the depth of utility lines can sometimes vary as a result of erosion, prior work or uneven surfaces, go ahead and make the call, even if you’re only digging a few inches or in a location that’s previously been marked. Calling 8-1-1 at least a few days before digging reduces your risk of striking an underground line to less than one percent.
There are more than 2.4 million miles of natural gas and oil pipelines in the U.S. Our nation’s pipeline network transports the fuels to generate electricity and the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel we rely upon daily. Pipeline operators utilize prevention, mitigation and response techniques to safely deliver affordable energy to households across the country, and public awareness campaigns like National 8-1-1 Day help the industry better protect critical energy infrastructure.
Pipelines remain one of the safest and most reliable ways to transport natural gas and oil, delivering 99.99% of energy products securely to their destination. As you might expect, the natural gas and oil industry does a lot of digging and has strong standards and recommended practices to verify “what’s below” before breaking ground. Here are just a few of these industry standards:
API RP 1166 – Excavation Monitoring and Observation
To protect the public, excavation employees and the environment, preventing damage to pipeline assets from excavation activities is imperative. This standard provides a consistently applied decision-making process for monitoring and observing excavation and other activities on or near pipeline rights-of-way. Items covered under this standard include things to consider when evaluating the type of work and proximity of work to the pipeline, and various items to pay attention to when near a pipeline.
API RP 1109 - Line Markers and Signage for Hazardous Liquid Pipelines and Facilities
Similar to the informative flags placed in residential yards or on worksites after calling 8-1-1, industry has strict standards for the permanent marking of liquid petroleum pipeline transportation facilities. This standard covers the design, message, installation, placement, inspection and maintenance of markers and signs on pipeline facilities located onshore and at inland waterway crossings. Markers and signs indicate the presence of a pipeline facility and warn of the potential hazards associated with its presence and operation. The markers and signs contain information to be used by the public when reporting emergencies, such as the name of the pipeline operator and an emergency number, or when seeking assistance in determining the precise location of a buried pipeline.
API RP 1102 – Steel Pipeline Crossing Railroads and Highways
This recommended practice covers the design, installation, inspection and testing required to promote safe crossings of steel pipelines under railroads and highways and gives primary emphasis to provisions for public safety. The provisions apply to the design and construction of welded steel pipelines under railroads and highways and are formulated to protect the facility crossed by the pipeline, as well as to provide an adequate design for safe installation and operation of the pipeline.
API intern Claire O’Connor contributed to this post.
About The Author
Sam Winstel is a writer for the American Petroleum Institute. He comes to API from Edelman, where he supported communications marketing strategies for clients across the firm’s energy and federal government practices. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Sam graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina, and he currently resides in Washington, D.C.
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