SoCalGas Reminds Contractors, Customers and Business Owners to 'Call 811 Before You Dig' Damage to natural gas pipelines most often caused by accidental "dig-ins"

LOS ANGELES, Aug.11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Today is National 811 Day and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) is joining other utilities around the country to remind contractors, homeowners and businesses to "call 811 before you dig" at a construction site, in the yard or at your business to avoid costly and potentially dangerous damage to utility-owned natural gas lines and other underground utility-owned equipment.

Call 811 or Underground Service Alert (USA) at least two working days before a project start date to help avoid damage to these hidden natural gas lines. The service is free and USA will contact SoCalGas and other utilities to then locate and mark the underground equipment they own.

Not calling 811 can have serious consequences. If a contractor or a customer digs into the ground before calling 811 and hits a natural gas pipeline, the damage can cause traffic delays, loss of service to nearby homes and businesses, and potentially more serious implications. Those responsible for damaging natural gas lines can face fines anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000. Also, if a contractor has too many dig-ins, they can lose their insurance coverage.

Last year, there were several thousand accidental dig-ins into SoCalGas' natural gas lines throughout its service territory.

"Safety is SoCalGas' top priority and we work hard to maintain the integrity and reliability of our natural gas pipeline system.  The majority of damage to our pipelines is from dig-ins and can help be prevented with a simple call," said Doug Schneider, vice president of gas engineering & system integrity.

SoCalGas-owned pipelines typically extend from the gas main in the street to the gas meter. Customer-owned gas piping is the line that runs from the gas meter to the building or area where gas-fueled equipment or appliances are located. SoCalGas does NOT mark customer–owned gas piping. To have customer-owned lines located and marked before a project, SoCalGas advises customers to call pipe and leak locating companies or a licensed plumber.

"Once all lines are marked, customers should carefully use only hand-digging tools within two feet on each side of marked gas lines," Schneider added.

No damage to gas lines is too small to report. Even a slight gouge, scrape or dent to a pipeline or coating from an accidental dig-in may cause a dangerous break or leak in the future. To report a dig-in, call 911 or SoCalGas immediately at 1-800-427-2200.

About Southern California Gas Co.

Southern California Gas Co. has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 140 years. It is the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, providing service to 20.9 million consumers connected through nearly 5.8 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles throughout Central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. Southern California Gas Co. is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE).

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SOURCE Southern California Gas Co.


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