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CHESTER, VA – October 28, 2012 – The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy may require a lot of work removing downed trees and grinding tree stumps. Columbia Gas of Virginia (Columbia) urges Virginians to call va811 (Miss Utility) at 811 and get all underground utilities located before beginning to work.
When trees are downed, their root system can bring with them underground utility lines such as natural gas service and main lines along with overhead utility lines. In addition, because utilities could be underneath, caution should be taken when grinding tree stumps. By calling 811 each utility will locate their underground utilities and clearly mark their facilities using the universal color code. The colors are:
Calling 811 connects callers to va811 (Miss Utility), Virginia’s one-call center, which notifies all utility companies of the caller’s intent to dig. Professional utility locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground utility lines with flags or spray paint.
“Striking an underground utility line while removing downed trees or grinding tree stumps can cause harm to you or those around you, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, and potentially result in fines and repair costs,” said Mike Huwar, VP and general manager, operations for Columbia.
Virginia law requires any person planning to dig to notify va811 (Miss Utility) at 811 before beginning to dig. This law gives utility operators 48 hours from 7:00 a.m. the next working day after you notify va811 (Miss Utility) to mark their underground utility lines.
Follow these four simple steps before you dig or excavate and share the responsibility of protecting yourself and underground utilities:
1. Call 811 before you dig
- Once you call, the member utilities are alerted that may have facilities in your proposed excavation area. There is no fee for this service.
2. Allow required time for marking
- Wait 48 hours, beginning 7:00 a.m. the next working day following notice, to allow the utilities to mark their facilities.
3. Respect the marks
- Protect and preserve the line-location markings from the time the excavation or demolition begins until they are no longer required for the proper and safe excavation near the utility lines
- Request remarking at anytime the markings become illegible for any reason
4. Excavate carefully
- Conduct a site survey before beginning your project. Look for clear evidence of unmarked utilities. Clear evidence includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Visual evidence of an unmarked utility line
- Knowledge of the presence of a utility line; or
- Faded marks from previous markings
- If clear evidence of an unmarked utility line is identified, contact Miss Utility and notify them. Wait three hours from the time you notified Miss Utility before proceeding.
- Once the underground utility is located, the law requires that the excavator take all reasonable steps to properly protect, support and backfill underground utility lines. Also, an excavator must not use mechanized equipment within two feet of the extremities of all exposed utility lines.
About Columbia Gas of Virginia
Columbia Gas of Virginia delivers safe, reliable and clean natural gas to customers in portions of Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, suburban Richmond, Central Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley, the Lynchburg region and parts of Western Virginia. With headquarters in Chesterfield County, the company is one of the 7 energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) serving 3.8 million natural gas and electric customers. Always call 811 before you dig and Dig with CARE.