Quick Start Guide Natural Gas Utilities
SECTION 03: KEY SAFETY MESSAGES
Why Address This Issue? Excavation damage accounts for the majority of all reported natural gas pipeline incidents. Even minor damage (such as a gouge, scrape, or dent to a pipeline or its coating) may cause a leak or failure in the future. To protect natural gas pipelines and other underground facilities, the law requires anyone planning a digging project to contact the local one-call system by dialing 811 or placing an online request, and to observe a state- mandated waiting period before excavation begins. During this waiting period, the one-call system notifies owners of underground utilities in the proposed dig area, and these entities must clearly mark the locations of their buried lines for excavators before earthmoving work begins. Excavation- related incidents often result from the failure of contractors or customers to notify the one-call system and/or to dig with care around marked utility lines. State one-call systems have extensive advertising and safety communications programs in place to encourage safe digging practices. However, natural gas utilities are also required to have their own public safety outreach programs to promote safe digging. Federal Regulation 49 CFR §192.614 requires gas operators to notify the public in the vicinity of their pipelines, as often as needed, about the pipeline operator’s damage prevention program. In addition, 49 CFR §192.616 requires gas pipeline owners and operators to conduct continuing public safety awareness education programs that comply with the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 1162. These programs must provide documented and continuous public safety awareness education to excavators, emergency officials, local public officials, and other members of the public who live or work near natural gas pipelines.
Developing a Public Safety Communications Program
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