As construction and development continue to gravitate toward more rural areas, natural gas companies urge all excavators, including construction firms, landscaping companies, homebuilders and land developers, to educate themselves on safe digging practices. Even minor contact with a pipeline, such as a small dent, chip or scratch, can cause major damage down the road if not professionally repaired.

Remember to call before you dig!
By law, all individuals planning any digging, ditching, drilling, leveling or plowing activity must contact Indiana811 at 1-800-382-5544, at least two working days beforehand. You can also submit your request online at (If you have never submitted a ticket request online, you must first complete a brief orientation.) Representatives from the appropriate natural gas company will then come to the site and designate the approximate location of the natural gas lines using yellow paint and/or flags, FREE of charge. As defined in Indiana state law, "approximate location" means a strip of land at least four (4) feet wide but not wider than the width of the underground facility plus two (2) feet on either side of the outer limits of the physical plant.

Calling Indiana811 before you dig is the only way to determine the true location of a pipeline. Some people assume they can pinpoint a pipeline's location simply by drawing a straight line between two or more ROW pipeline markers. These markers, however, do not indicate the depth of the pipeline and are not always located precisely over a line. A pipeline may curve or twist underground to avoid natural or manmade objects, such as tree roots or television cable. To learn more about Indiana811 and calling before you dig click here.

Know your natural gas safety
Here are a few safety tips for excavators to keep in mind:

Trust your senses. The three main ways to detect a natural gas leak are:
SMELL — To help you SMELL a leak from a gas line or appliance, a familiar odor like rotten eggs is often added to natural gas.

SEE — Near a gas leak, you might SEE blowing dirt, bubbling water or an unusual area of dead vegetation.

HEAR — A leaking pipeline might make a hissing sound you can HEAR.

• If you suspect a leak, don't try to stop it or use anything that could create a spark—not even a cell phone. Instead, leave the area completely and call the natural gas company listed on the nearest pipeline marker. If no company is listed, call 9-1-1.

• If you come in contact with a pipeline, and cause minor damage such as a dent, gouge, scratch or break in coatings, you are required by state law to call the appropriate utility with the type and location of the damage. Please allow the utility company time to repair the pipeline. If your contact with the pipeline results in a release of natural gas, please contact the appropriate utility and 9-1-1. Then take the appropriate steps listed above to keep yourself and surrounding property safe.

Report unauthorized activity
Natural gas companies work hard to protect their pipelines from natural hazards and third-party damage. In addition to installing highly visible pipeline markers, many companies perform aerial, ground and marine inspections of their ROWs; conduct annual leak surveys; and install sophisticated leak detection equipment. To build awareness, these companies sponsor public education programs, meet regularly with public and emergency officials and conduct excavator education sessions. For more information about these sessions, please contact your local natural gas company.

You can help by reporting any suspicious activity or unauthorized digging occurring at or near your job sites. If you suspect ANY illegal digging, call the natural gas company listed on the nearest pipeline marker right away. If no natural gas company is listed, call 9-1-1.




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