Unless you have up to a quarter-million dollars lying around to pay for a dumb mistake, FortisBC is reminding both contractors and homeowners to watch out for natural gas lines before digging a hole.
In 2015, there were more than 1,000 preventable contacts with FortisBC’s buried natural gas lines. With 94 line hits last year, Vancouver ranked first among the areas with the most preventable contacts with FortisBC’s natural gas infrastructure. Central Okanagan had the second highest amount of damage with 72 line hits, and Surrey hit 68 to round out the top three offenders in B.C.
“While virtually all natural gas line hits are preventable, we still saw a slight increase from the previous year in the number of contacts with our infrastructure,” said Doyle Sam, executive vice-president of FortisBC operations and engineering.
Those who damage the lines are responsible for the cost of the repairs, with the bills for 2015 breakage ranging from $250 to $250,000. In total, contractors and homeowners had to pay approximately $2.5 million to repair damaged gas lines.
There is a cheaper way. The best way to ensure safety is to call BC One Call (1-800-474-6886) or go to bconecall.ca before starting a dig. The call – or click – is free, but needs to be done three days in advance of the start of the project.
BC One Call will notify member companies that have buried utilities in the specific dig area, including FortisBC, which will provide the necessary information.
“Call before you dig is the first step to ensure your safety and damage prevention, said said Gary Metz, executive director of BC One Call. “Many types of underground lines serve your home or construction site, including gas and electricity, but also water, telephone and cable TV can be located only a few feet beneath the surface. Knowing what underground facilities are buried in or near a job site that involves excavation or personal property is essential to avoid potentially dangerous accidents that could result from hitting a line.”
In addition to the direct cost of repairs to damaged lines, numerous indirect costs have to be paid by contractors and individuals for things such as work delays and legal fines.
“It’s important to remember that whether you’re gardening, planting a tree, installing a fence or excavating, you can stay safe and avoid unexpected costs by calling BC One Call before starting work to get your free natural gas line location details,” Metz said.
Three steps for safe digging:
1. Call or click: Call BC One Call at 1-800-474-6886 or click on bconecall.ca to make an e-ticket locate request.
2. Review: Within two days, you’ll receive your natural gas line location information. Review it before digging.
3. Clarify: Need help understanding where it’s safe to dig? Call FortisBC at 1-888-822-6555.