Call Before You Dig

By Debbie Hersman

Always call 811 before you dig.

Did you know to call 811 before you begin any excavation project — for example, before planting a tree, installing a mailbox, or building a deck? The reason: To protect you from hitting underground utility lines.

This is important. Damage to underground lines is a leading cause of pipeline accidents. While pipelines are a very safe mode of transportation, there has been a spate of recent accidents across the country in the last year. The NTSB currently has five active pipeline accident investigations.

We’ve seen from recent tragic accidents in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and San Bruno, California, that pipeline accidents can be deadly. The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is addressing the state of the nation’s pipeline infrastructure, is holding a Pipeline Safety Forum today. I moderated this morning’s panel, which addressed, “What Are the Highest Pipeline Risks?”

As Richard Worsinger, president of the American Public Gas Association said, “Excavation damage is a main concern.” That sentiment was echoed by other panelists who agree public education is essential.

To support public education, April has been designated National Safe Digging Month. To learn more about calling 811, check out

2 thoughts on “Call Before You Dig”

  1. While corrosion issues still cause many pipeline failures, calling 811 before digging is important. I am concerned that there is little, or no enforcement, by agencies for violations of calling for a locate. And, I know of at least one gas gathering/production system, which is not under PHMSA regulation, that refuses to locate their pipelines if 811 is called.

    Contact me if you want to know more about that last one.

  2. Calling 811 prior to digging is extremely important. 811 is a great service and hopefully with articles like this awareness will continue to rise

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