In recognition of National 811 Safe Digging Day – a national event focused on promoting safe digging practices at the home or worksite – Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) raised a 30-foot-tall replica shovel at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The hoisting of the shovel kicked off a month-long marketing campaign to promote safe digging practices and educate Southern California residents about the importance of contacting 811 to have buried utilities lines properly marked prior to the start of any excavation project. In addition to hoisting the shovel, SoCalGas is partnering with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for a week-long education campaign that includes radio spots, in-stadium marketing, featuring digital ads and video and the opportunity for one lucky fan to win $811 on National 811 Day. In addition, now through August 22nd, SoCalGas will take over Union Station and the 7th and Metro Center in Downtown Los Angeles with train wraps and prominent advertisements placed throughout each station.
“As we take the next big step on our journey to achieve net zero emissions in our operations by 2045, we are setting aggressive targets to reduce methane emissions from our maintenance activities while continuing to keep the communities we serve safe,” said Gina Orozco, vice president of gas engineering and system integrity. “People often don’t think about it, but pipelines can be located anywhere—under streets, sidewalks and private property. When folks dial 811 before digging, the utilities have the chance to mark their buried lines, which can prevent dig-in incidents. This easy call and complimentary service not only benefits public safety but can also reduce potential methane emissions.”
To help this issue, State Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) authored Senate Bill 297 (SB 297) – the Wade Kilpatrick Gas Safety Act, which is expected to reach the governor’s desk later this month. If signed, the bill will serve as model legislation that prioritizes gas pipeline and subsurface installation safety by prescribing new civil penalties for excavators who knowingly damage gas infrastructure and fail to follow the proper safety protocols. SB 297 would also improve education and outreach to make more contractors, excavators, and the public more aware of utility lines and other infrastructure buried beneath streets, sidewalks and other spaces.
“Dig-ins represent a common and preventable problem with significant safety and environmental impacts. My legislation, SB 297, is a common-sense solution that prioritizes safety, reliability and sustainability while prescribing new penalties to discourage contractors and others from damaging gas and other infrastructure,” said State Senator Maria Elena Durazo.
“SB 297 will add additional measures to prevent repeat offenders from negligently hitting buried gas lines which will result in fewer instances of vented methane, and most importantly help keep our workers and communities safer. That’s what the Wade Kilpatrick Gas Safety Act is for, and Wade Kilpatrick, his family, and all of his Union brothers and sisters are who it is for,” said Eric Hofmann, president of the UWUA Local 132 AFL-CIO.
Last year, more than 2,600 cases of accidental damage occurred from digging into SoCalGas’ gas lines throughout its 24,000-mile service territory. That’s more than seven dig-ins every day on average. Those accidents can lead to significant safety hazards and emissions. Across SoCalGas’ service territory, about 60% of pipeline damage due to digging is caused by homeowners, contractors, and excavators who did not contact 811 before digging.
SoCalGas encourages customers to take the following steps when planning any digging project:
- Mark out your proposed excavation area in white (paint, chalk, flour or other suitable materials).
- Contact Underground Service Alert at 811 to submit a location request online or dial 8-1-1 at least two business days before digging.
- Wait until a SoCalGas technician has marked our natural gas lines, indicating pipe material and diameter, or let you know that the area is clear.
- Remember that SoCalGas only uses yellow paint, flags or stakes to mark the location of natural gas pipes.
- Use only hand tools to dig within 24 inches of a marked utility line to carefully expose the exact locations before using any power excavation equipment in the area.
- Report all pipe damage, regardless of how small or how big it may be. Remember, no damage is too small to report. Contact us immediately at 1-800-427-2200.
- If you’ve hired a contractor, make sure the contractor contacts 811 to have our natural gas lines marked.
For more information on safety and 811, visit: https://www.socalgas.com/stay-safe/safety-and-prevention.