BELLEVUE, Wash.--With Gov. Gregoire’s declaration that April is Safe Digging Month, Puget Sound Energy urges everyone to call 811 to schedule a free utility locator service before beginning any work that involves digging.
“As April marks the start of spring digging season with various garden, home improvement and construction projects, remember to call 811 two business days before digging to help prevent serious injuries or potential hazards from striking or damaging underground utility lines,” said Sue McLain, PSE senior vice president of Delivery Operations. “It’s important to call 811 before any digging activity--even when you only plan to use a shovel or hand tool.”
In 2011, PSE experienced 850 incidents related to accidental dig-ups of the utility’s 25,000 miles of underground natural gas lines and 300 incidents involving the utility’s 10,000 miles of buried power lines; this is down 5.5 percent from a total of 1,214 combined incidents in 2010. Nearly 90 percent of the damage to PSE’s underground natural gas lines was caused by residents, contractors and other excavators.
“Any scratch, dent or gouge to a natural gas pipe or nick to an underground electric line has the potential to become a real-time safety hazard,” said McLain. “These potentially dangerous accidents can be prevented by one simple call to 811 to have utilities marked before digging is started, which is required by Washington state law.”
PSE advises anyone who may have damaged natural gas pipes or electric systems – including merely scratching or denting the pipe, conduit or plastic covering the wire, or who smell the rotten-egg odor of a natural gas leak, to leave the area immediately. Do not do anything that might create a spark. Move away from the suspected leak or damaged facility and call PSE at 1-888-225-5773 or call 911. PSE asks citizens to test their natural gas awareness by taking an online quiz, which is accessible to everyone.
About Puget Sound Energy
Washington state’s oldest local energy utility, Puget Sound Energy serves 1.1 million electric customers and more than 750,000 natural gas customers in 11 counties. A subsidiary of Puget Energy, PSE meets the energy needs of its customers, in part, through cost-effective energy efficiency, procurement of sustainable energy resources, and far-sighted investment in energy-delivery infrastructure. PSE employees are dedicated to providing great customer service that is safe, dependable and efficient. For more information, visit www.PSE.com.