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National Safe Digging Month Encourages Consumers to Call Before Digging

Boot on a shovel digging a hole
Mon, 04/05/2021

National Safe Digging Month serves as a reminder to all people who excavate or dig to call 811 to have the approximate location of their utility lines marked. This process helps prevent injuries, property damage, and inconvenient utility outages.

Many gas-related incidents result from damage to buried pipelines during excavation activities. Known as "third party damage," this type of excavation incident is one of the leading causes of pipeline damage industry-wide each year.

This is why one-call programs, such as that provided by SC811, are so valuable. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has designated 811 as the nationwide number to protect pipelines and utilities from excavation damage. Anyone planning to dig, excavate, bore, tunnel, blast, or disturb the earth in any manner in which buried utilities may be damaged must call SC811 by dialing 811.

The 811 process is simple. State law requires consumers to do one of the following at least three full working days before digging— call 811, use the SC811 app, or visit— to notify the utilities of your intention and generate a ticket. Utility operators then have 72 hours to perform the marking at no cost to the consumer.

The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) assists the SC811 program, which is administered by the Palmetto Utility Protection Service, by checking 811 locate tickets at the request of natural gas operators.

The ORS’ Pipeline Safety department has shared oversight with federal agencies with regard to the safety of natural gas distribution and transmission pipeline systems, liquefied natural gas facilities, certain liquefied propane systems, landfill gas systems, and lateral pipelines from interstate pipeline systems in South Carolina. The ORS inspects facilities, performs incident investigations, and conducts various types of operator training.

“The goal of every aspect of the program is public safety,” says Tom Allen, ORS Director of Safety, Transportation, and Telecommunications. “As April marks the start of spring digging season, we encourage all homeowners and professionals to make the call to 811 to have underground utility lines in their area marked. Please join us in an effort to keep our communities safe and connected.”

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