April is Safe Digging Month, and along with the warmer weather, construction and landscaping are beginning across much of British Columbia. It’s typically the time of year FortisBC begins to see a spike in the number of calls to repair damage to underground natural gas lines.
Damage to FortisBC’s energy infrastructure could create potential safety hazards and often results in unplanned service outages. That’s why FortisBC has long supported BC One Call – a free service that provides British Columbians with up-to-date information on underground pipes and wires.
“Last year was a groundbreaking year for BC One Call requests for our gas infrastructure, with the number of tickets processed surpassing 100,000 for the first time. More than ever before British Columbians are taking steps to avoid damaging underground utilities,” said Doyle Sam, executive vice-president, operations and engineering, FortisBC.
“We want people to keep up that momentum because you should never try to guess where it’s safe to dig. Stay safe and call before you dig,” he said.
Ninety-nine per cent of damage to FortisBC’s natural gas system is caused by third parties such as construction crews, contractors and homeowners. The vast majority of those incidents could be prevented by calling BC One Call and following safe digging procedures.
“If you’re planning to dig, take the time to call or to click on BC One Call’s website to receive all information from participating utilities in your area,” said Gary Tremblay, executive director of BC One Call.
Beyond the potential safety hazards, damage to energy infrastructure can be costly.
If proper digging practices are not followed and BC One Call isn’t consulted, whoever damaged the underground infrastructure could be on the hook for the full cost of the repairs. Often, the bills are thousands of dollars.
FortisBC provides safety regulators like the BC Safety Authority and WorkSafeBC with detailed findings from gas line damages and electrical contacts. FortisBC also uses that information to remind the public to use BC One Call. As a founding member of the BC Common Ground Alliance, FortisBC also raises awareness about safe excavation practices, in line with other underground utilities and services such as telephone, cable, and sewage.
For more information on gas line safety and safe excavation practices, please visit fortisbc.com/safety or bconecall.bc.ca. Watch our “Call Before You Dig” video at youtu.be/SppxQqNDUZI.