SoCalGas, Common Ground Alliance Hold Mock Gas Line Digging Accident to Demonstrate Importance of Calling 811 Before Excavation Work and Following Safe Digging Procedures

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

BAKERSFIELD, Calif.—September 19, 2017—Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and the California Regional Common Ground Alliance held a mock utility line strike for a crowd of about 175 participants, simulating what can happen when contractors or homeowners either fail to call 811 to have utility lines marked before any home or commercial digging project, or fail to follow recommended procedures during the excavation. Photos of the event are available here.

Event organizers enacted a fictitious event portraying a fire that occurs when workers strike a marked natural gas line.  The exercise highlighted CARCGA’s recommendation that excavators hand dig all the way to the depth of their excavation.

“Last year, there were more than 3,000 cases of damage to SoCalGas' natural gas lines caused by dig-in accidents, and sixty percent of this damage was caused by residents and contractors who failed to call 811 before digging,” said Phillip Prevost, SoCalGas gas operations field supervisor. “Once lines are marked, it’s also important to follow more than protocols and procedures recommended by Common Ground Alliance to avoid digging in to unmarked lines or other hazards.  Following these safety recommendations can prevent 99 percent of accidents.”

“Hitting a pipeline while digging, planting, or demolition work can not only cause property damage and loss of utility service, it can also cause serious injury,” said Marshall Johnson, AT&T area manager cable damage prevention & compliance and chairperson of California Regional Common Ground Alliance. “This is an important public safety issue, and we want to educate homeowners and contractors of the importance of calling 811 to have utilities marked before any project involving excavation.”

Tony Marino, Executive Officer of California Underground Facilities Safe Excavation Board, delivered today’s keynote address, and also urged the audience, comprised mostly of excavators, contractors, and utility operators, to follow safety recommendations carefully.

Other guest speakers included California Assemblyman Vince Fong, Sunil Shori from the California Public Utilities Commission, and Executive Director of USA North 811 James Wingate.

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, then informs the appropriate utility companies, which then send professional utility locating technicians to identify and mark the approximate location of lines.

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About SoCalGas

Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States, providing clean, safe, affordable, and reliable natural gas service to 21.7 million customers in Central and Southern California. Its service territory spans 22,000 square miles from Fresno to the Mexican border, reaching more than 550 communities through 5.9 million meters and 101,000 miles of pipeline. More than 90 percent of Southern California single-family home residents use natural gas for home heat and hot water. In addition, natural gas plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians—about 60 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.  

SoCalGas has served communities in California for 150 years and is committed to being a leader in the region’s clean energy future. The company has committed to spending $6 billion over the next five years to modernize and upgrade its gas infrastructure, while also reducing methane emissions. SoCalGas is working to accelerate the use of renewable natural gas, a carbon-neutral or carbon-negative fuel created by capturing and conditioning greenhouse gas emissions from farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. The company is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 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 organization 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. 

Melissa Bailey: (213) 244-2442 or (213) 453-6537

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Southern California Gas Company