Make Earth Day and Arbor Day Events Safer by Calling 811 to Locate Underground Utilities For Free

Contact: Bob Innes
(804) 768-6410
(804) 512-1425 - cellular
rinnes@nisource.com

CHESTER, VA. – April 17, 2014 – The annual celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd and Arbor Day on April 25th means trees will be planted and digging will likely occur at these events. By calling 811 you can have all underground utility lines marked so that you can safely dig and avoid having to call 911 by striking an underground natural gas line. This service is provided free to the caller.

Striking a single utility line can cause personal injury, property damage, repair costs, fines and loss of utility service. Volunteers are responsible for having all underground utility lines marked, regardless of whether they are planting a sapling or a full-grown tree.

Everyone who calls 811 is connected to va811, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of the caller’s intent to dig. Qualified professional locators are sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags and spray paint. Each type of utility has designated marking colors to clearly identify the type of underground facilities.

The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces. Nationally, every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.

As you plan your Earth Day and Arbor Day projects, Columbia Gas of Virginia encourages volunteers to take the following four steps and dig with care around underground utilities:

Step 1 - Plan ahead – Always call 811 at least three days before digging, regardless of the familiarity with the property.
Step 2 – Allow required time for marking – Utility companies have 2-working days to mark their facilities beginning at 7:00 am on the next working day after calling 811. It does not include weekends or official state or Federal holidays.
Step 3 – Respect and protect the marks – Do not cover up or destroy the utility markings as they indicate the approximate location of underground utilities. Contact the utility if marks are destroyed.
Step 4 – Excavate carefully – Do not dig with mechanized equipment within 24 inches of either side of the utility markings. Once the utility line has been exposed protect the integrity of the facility while digging.

If during digging or planting, the strong smell similar to “Rotten Eggs” is present, Columbia Gas of Virginia recommends you take the following actions:

• Immediately leave the area
• From a safe location away from the odor, call 911 and Columbia Gas of Virginia at 800.544.5606.
• Warn others to stay away from the area
• Leave windows and doors in their current position
• Avoid open flames or anything that could spark ignition - including cell phones, lights, garage doors or other power equipment.
• Do not attempt to operate pipeline valve or try to correct the leak.
• When emergency personnel arrive explain the situation to them.

About Columbia Gas of Virginia
Columbia Gas of Virginia delivers safe, reliable and clean natural gas to over 250,000 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. Learn more at www.ColumbiaGasVa.com.

About va811
The Virginia Utility Protection Service is the not-for-profit organization created by Virginia’s utilities to protect their underground facilities. To learn more visit www.va811.com.