FORTISBC says that in 2017, there were more than 1,200 incidents of natural gas line damages from excavation in the province.
Damaging a natural gas line can cause unsafe situations, traffic delays, service interruptions, and may require costly repairs. FortisBC responds to many natural gas line damages each year, of which more than 90 per cent are preventable.
“FortisBC’s natural gas system delivers vital energy to homes, businesses, schools and hospitals every day. When a natural gas line is damaged, it can have serious consequences and interrupt service,” says Ian Turnbull, damage prevention and emergency services manager at FortisBC. “It’s important to remember that whether you’re excavating, gardening or even planting a tree, you stay safe and avoid unexpected costs by notifying BC One Call before commencing any work.”
Whether you are a professional contractor excavating or a homeowner doing yard work, always call or click before you dig. The call and the information are free.
Damage by the numbers in 2017:
- 60 per cent of natural gas line damages are related to work done by contractors
- 30 per cent are related to work done by homeowners
- three per cent are related to municipal activity
- the rest of natural gas line damage is caused by other utilities, motor vehicle accidents hitting gas meters or other events
FortisBC says it works closely with communities across the province to raise awareness around safe excavation practices. Over the past year, natural gas line damages in the community of Abbotsford have increased along with other communities where construction activity has been significant.
“The City of Abbotsford supports Dig Safe Month and the push by FortisBC to raise awareness across our community about BC One Call and safe digging practices,” says Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun. “Just one call can save unnecessary injury or worse. We want everyone in our community to stay safe so that they can return home to their family each and every day.”
Many programs that FortisBC has sponsored or developed have contributed to reducing the percentage of damages compared to the level of construction activity near the lines. These programs include the BC Common Ground Alliance’s ground disturbance seminars, which have been developed for contractors, as well as FortisBC’s Damage Prevention program. However, FortisBC advises that the pace of construction and excavation across the province requires ongoing caution and attention – call or click before you dig, and follow all requirements relating to safe excavation.
“For nearly 25 years BC One Call has been promoting call or click before you dig as a way of preventing infrastructure damage, keeping our workers safe and ensuring uninterrupted service delivery,” says Chris Hyland, President of BC One Call. “Dig Safe Month is a terrific way to get the message out at the start of what we expect to be another busy construction season.”
FortisBC seeks to recover costs associated with repairs from any person or organization that damages its underground utilities. Annual repair costs incurred can range between $1.5 to $2 million.