The Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has worked hard to spread the message that pipeline damage from excavation can be prevented by calling 811 before digging. And yesterday, PHMSA took DOT's National Transportation Week emphasis on safety and our longstanding support for the national 811 "Call Before You Dig" hotline one step further with more than $1 million in grants to states' safe digging call centers.
Pipeline damage can be devastating to an entire community--causing property damage and tragic loss of life. But these potentially deadly incidents can be prevented.
One-third of all serious pipeline accidents are caused by someone digging and hitting a pipeline by mistake. In fact, between 1988 and 2010, excavation damage was responsible for $438,785,552 in property damage. However, a simple, toll-free call to 8-1-1 before you start digging will connect you to your state's One Call center for important safety information.
By calling 811, anyone planning an excavation project--from contractors and landscapers to homeowners starting a simple garden--can get connected to local utility companies who will visit the property to mark the location of any underground lines, pipes and cables before a single shovel hits the dirt.
The number of dangerous pipeline leaks caused by excavation damage has declined considerably thanks to PHMSA, its safety partners, and the single, nationwide 8-1-1 number introduced in 2007. The $1,061,523 in awards announced yesterday will help state One Call centers continue that record of improved safety.
As PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman said, "Most pipeline accidents are preventable with just one call to these centers, and we will continue to support this important public safety resource."
And you can help. Even if you don't have a project in mind, you can visit www.the811promise.com and take the first step toward pipeline safety. The 811 Promise is a simple pledge that you will always call 811 before you dig.
It's an easy way to reinforce this important safety message in your thoughts so that, when you do have a digging project, you'll know that before you pick up a shovel, you need to pick up the phone and make the right call...to 811.