With the arrival of spring, Americans are looking forward to getting outdoors and enjoying better weather. For many, that will mean gardening and landscaping around the house. But
an important reminder for all the green thumbs out there: remember to
before doing any digging.
Every year, we see tragic accidents when an underground pipeline or utility line is accidentally damaged.
That's why the U.S. Senate designated April as National Safe Digging Month.
As I wrote in a blog entry last month, America has a vital transportation system that remains virtually invisible to those of us who think only of roadways, airways, transitways, railways, and waterways: the network of 2.3 million miles of pipelines traversing this nation just beneath the surface.
Through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, DOT works to ensure the safe, reliable, and environmentally sound operation of that pipeline system.
And, while our pipeline network is vital, it is also vulnerable to excavation activities--including regular garden digging--that may not only breach a line but also cause you serious injury or damage the environment.
Excavation damage is the number one cause of serious pipeline incidents. National Safe Digging Month offers a chance to educate Americans about the susceptibility of these pipelines to normal human activity and about the need to CALL 811 BEFORE YOU DIG.
PHMSA and our partners have done a good job helping reduce the number of incidents over the past few years, but the damage--100% preventable--from people failing to call 811 before they dig is still too high.
From 2007 to 2009, digging damage caused:
- 27% of all serious hazardous liquids pipeline accidents
- 16% of all serious natural gas transmission pipeline incidents
- 28% of all natural gas distribution pipeline incidents
We can do better. And spreading the word on National Safe Digging Month and 811 will help.
So, please, remember that number and tell your friends, families, and neighbors to call 811 before digging. This month, and every month.