Austin ––With Aug. 11 (or 8/11) approaching, also known as 811 day, the Texas Railroad Commissioners remind Texans that state law requires residents to call 811 before any digging project to have underground pipelines and other utilities marked.
The call to 811 is free and must be made two days before digging. When calling 811, homeowners, excavators and contractors are connected to one of the two state One-Call Centers operating in Texas. All underground facility operators are notified, including pipelines. Then locator personnel are sent to a digging site to locate and mark pipelines and other utilities with flags, spray paint or both, in response to calls made to 811.
Striking an underground pipeline has the potential to cause injuries, disrupt neighborhood services and can result in fines and repair costs. Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches, the risk of striking an underground utility line may still exist. Not calling 811 before digging or incorrectly marked pipelines, can result in fines of up to $10,000 per day per violation. In addition, the Commission may assess an enhanced violation of up to $25,000. In calendar year 2009, the Commission collected more than $1 million in penalties for excavation damages.
“On Aug. 11 and throughout the year, we remind homeowners as well as professional contractors to call 811 before digging to eliminate the risk of striking underground pipelines,” said Chairman Victor G. Carrillo, “Failure to call before digging resulted in more than 9,000 reported hits on pipelines in 2009, and is the top cause of pipeline accidents in Texas. However, the vast majority of these incidents are minor and do not cause injuries.”
Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones said, “Education is the key. With more than 260,000 miles of active pipelines, Texas has more pipelines than any other state. So, everyone needs to be aware of the infrastructure underneath us that supports our energy needs and to call 811 before digging.”
Commissioner Michael L. Williams said, “As the depth of pipelines can vary due to a number of reasons, including erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces, every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a call to 811. You need to call 811 whether you are installing a mailbox, building a deck, planting a tree or laying a patio”
Visit www.call811.com or www.rrc.texas.gov for more information about 811 and safe digging practices.