LOS ANGELES, April 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- April is National Safe Digging Month and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) is reminding customers, contractors and business owners that natural gas safety is a shared responsibility.
Contractors, business owners and customers should call 811 to have utility-owned lines marked before digging at construction sites, in the garden or before removing grass to plant drought tolerant succulents. Calling 811 (Underground Service Alert) will help avoid possible damage to hidden gas lines, loss of natural gas service or serious injuries.
Safety is SoCalGas' core value and the utility has worked aggressively to make sure its system continues to be safe. These efforts have included:
Modernized infrastructure: SoCalGas replaced pre-World War II transmission pipe, updated its metering and regulating facilities and modernized its distribution system with plastic pipe. The company will invest $6 billion over the next five years to maintain and improve safety, reliability and service to its customers.
Leak surveys: SoCalGas regularly conducts surveys from transmission, distribution and gas storage facilities in compliance with federal and state regulations and requirements.
Pipeline Integrity Program: SoCalGas inspects the integrity of its critical lines on an ongoing basis with its Pipeline Integrity Program.
"We all play a part in making sure our communities stay safe. Since gas lines that serve homes and businesses are located underground and out of sight, sometimes just inches below the surface, we urge everyone – whether digging at your business, in the street or your home -- to make the quick 811 phone call to Underground Service Alert to have utility-owned lines marked for free," said Jimmie Cho, senior vice president of gas operations and system integrity for SoCalGas.
A utility line is damaged by digging once every three minutes nationwide, and many of these incidents are caused by failure of the professional excavator or homeowner to simply call 811 before beginning their digging project.
Last year, there were more than 2,600 "dig-ins" to SoCalGas pipelines which the utility hopes will decrease this year through increased public awareness. Before digging, customers, contractors and business owners should call 811 to reach Underground Service Alert at least two business days before the project begins. Underground Service Alert is free and they will contact SoCalGas and other area utilities. Each utility will then locate and mark the underground lines, pipes and cables they own.
As a reminder, SoCalGas-owned pipelines typically extend from the gas main pipeline, in front or behind the home or business, to the gas meter. Customer-owned gas pipes are the lines that run from the gas meter to the building or area where gas-fueled equipment or appliances are located, such as barbecues, fire pits or spa equipment. SoCalGas does not mark these customer-owned lines. To have customer-owned lines located and marked before a project, SoCalGas advises its customers to call pipe and leak locating service companies or licensed plumbing contractors who provide these services.
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 21.4 million consumers connected through 5.9 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), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego.