April is National Safe Digging Month. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, its Pipeline Safety Department and the U.S. Department of Transportation/Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (DOT/PHMSA) are reminding all Oklahomans of the importance of calling 8-1-1 or 1-800-522-OKIE (CALL OKIE) before starting any project that involves digging.
Corporation Commission Chair Dana Murphy said digging without checking for what may be underground is taking a terrible chance.
“Oklahoma has thousands of miles of buried pipeline and utility cable,” Murphy said. “Whether you’re planning on digging one hole or one hundred, digging without first contacting CALL OKIE or 8-1-1 puts you and others at risk for serious injury and could result in major damage to critical pipelines and utility service.”
Too many Oklahomans don’t realize just how close the danger can be, said Commission Vice Chair Bob Anthony.
“Many people wrongly think that they should only check if they are digging a deep hole,” Anthony said. “You can hit a line even if you’re digging relatively shallow holes, such as those for planting a small tree or a mailbox post. Erosion, soil shifting, and other factors can change how close a line is to the surface.”
Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas said Oklahoma has seen its share of digging-related pipeline and cable damage that could have been prevented.
“Taking the time to call 8-1-1 or CALL OKIE before you dig can save lives and prevent property damage. It’s time well spent,” said Douglas.
Both 8-1-1 and CALL OKIE will put the caller in touch with the same free service, which will arrange to have underground lines marked before digging begins. For more information, visit www.callokie.com or www.call811.com.