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April 17, 2015

In Wake of Fresno Gas Line Incident, PG&E Urges Calling 811 before Any Digging Project to Protect Public Safety

Utility responds quickly after non-PG&E workers strike transmission pipeline

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) urges anyone doing digging projects to call 811 at least two working days in advance so that utility lines can be marked to allow for safe digging. Workers not affiliated with PG&E apparently struck a 12-inch natural gas transmission pipeline this afternoon in Fresno; no call had been placed to 811.

The gas that was released by the dig-in ignited, and there were reports of injuries.

The company said in a statement: "Our primary concern is always the safety of the public and our employees. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been injured. As we continue to investigate this incident, we remind all of our customers of the importance of calling 811 before they do any type of digging project. Digging into gas pipelines can have serious safety consequences."

PG&E responded quickly after the pipeline was struck. PG&E detected a slight change in pressure at 2:29 p.m., and was first notified about the incident at 2:36 p.m. Actions to shut off gas began before 3 p.m., and the flow of gas to the pipeline was shut at 3:20 p.m. Because of the remaining gas in the line, the flames were exhausted at 3:56 p.m.

PG&E customers' gas service was not affected by the incident.

In California, contractors are required to provide notification of their intent to dig by calling 811 at least two working days in advance so that utility lines can be marked—an important step in protecting public safety. Failing to do so can also result in costly fines and delayed projects.

PG&E offers the following tips for safe digging:

  • Mark your project area in white: Identify the location where you will be digging by drawing a box around the area using white paint, white stakes, white flags, white chalk or even white baking flour.
  • Call 811 or go online for an Underground Service Alert ticket two working days before digging: Be prepared to provide the address and general location of the project, project start date and type of digging activity. This free program notifies PG&E and other utilities so that we can identify whether there are underground facilities at your project area.
  • Get marked: Utility companies will locate and mark their own pipelines, telephone, communications, water or other underground lines.
  • Dig safely: For your safety, use hand tools when digging within 24 inches of the outside edge of our underground lines. Leave utility flags, stakes or paint marks in place until you have finished digging.

Additional Information

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