The Oklahoma Corporation Commission warns that accidental “hits” on utility lines continues to be a very real problem in the state and across the nation. It is also avoidable. April has been declared Safe Digging month by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin.
The Commission is joining with the Governor to remind all Oklahomans of the importance of calling 8-1-1 or 1-800-522-OKIE1-800-522-OKIE before starting any project that involves digging.
Oklahoma Corporation Commission Chairman Bob Anthony says the warning is for all Oklahomans, not just those doing large projects.
“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.”
Commission Vice Chair Patrice Douglas says it takes a small investment of time to buy a large margin of safety.
“It certainly doesn’t take much time to pick up a phone and dial 8-1-1 or 1-800-522-OKIE1-800-522-OKIE,” Douglas said. “That one phone call helps protect life and ensure reliable utility service.”
Commissioner Dana Murphy is chair of the Governor’s Pipeline Safety Task Force, which evaluated Oklahoma’s pipeline safety laws over the past two years. She says safe digging is the center point of preventing loss of life, property, and utility service.
People have been killed or badly injured as a result of striking an underground pipeline,” Murphy noted. “Even if there’s no injury, the damages can result in the loss of critical utility service to many customers, with the cost of damage being paid by utility ratepayers.”
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.