811 & SAFETY TIPS FOR CONTRACTORS & EXCAVATORS

AVOID HAZARDS AND PREVENT PIPELINE DAMAGE BY REVIEWING THE FOLLOWING SAFETY INFORMATION.

Accidents involving contractors and excavators are one of the leading causes of pipeline damage. With approximately 100,000 miles of natural gas pipelines in SoCalGas® service territory, unmarked pipelines can be anywhere. Damage to natural gas pipelines can cause injury or death and can result in additional costs. It's especially important for contractors and excavators to be informed of the potential safety issues that might arise when working around natural gas pipelines.

Notifying 811 prior to excavation is required by California law.

Failure to comply can result in heavy fines.

Digging, excavation and grading near buried pipelines are major causes of pipeline damage, which can result in injury, costly repairs, natural gas service disruptions and project delays. Regardless of the size or scope of the work you’re planning, protect yourself, your employees, and the community by having the pipeline locations marked.

Follow these important steps before you start a project: 

  •  

    Spray

    Mark

    Mark out your proposed excavation area. Use white paint or provide other markings.
  •  

    Contact

    Contact

    Submit a request online or call 811 to submit a location request at least two business days before digging. SoCalGas will be contacted, as well as other utility owners, to mark the location of all utility-owned lines for FREE.
  •  

    Wait

    Wait

    Do not dig until we either mark our natural gas pipelines or you are advised that the area is clear.

  •  

    Confirm

    Confirm

    Confirm the utilities have marked the proposed work area. Natural gas is indicated in yellow. If no natural gas facilities are in your work area you may get a call, email, or see writing on the ground that indicates “no conflict” or “no natural gas.”

  •  

    Tool

    Hand Tools

    Use only hand tools within 24 inches on each side of marked utility lines to carefully expose the exact locations.

 

SoCalGas does not mark customer-owned natural gas lines, which typically run from the meter to the customer’s natural gas equipment. To have customer-owned lines located and marked before a project, contact a qualified pipe-locating professional.

Recognize a Natural Gas Leak

Be aware of signs you may see, hear or smell when there is a leak.

  •  

    Look

    Look

    If you see a damaged connection to a natural gas appliance, dirt/water blowing into the air, a dry patch of grass, fire or an explosion near a pipeline.
  •  

    Listen

    Listen

    If you hear unusual sounds like hissing or whistling.
  •  

    Smell

    Smell

    If you smell the distinctive odor[1] of natural gas.

 

[1] Some persons may not be able to smell the odor because they have a diminished sense of smell, olfactory fatigue (normal, temporary inability to distinguish an odor after prolonged exposure to it) or because the odor is being masked or hidden by other odors that are present, such as cooking, damp, musty or chemical odors. In addition, certain pipeline and soil conditions can cause odor fade—the loss of odorant so that it is not detectable by smell.

Odor Fade

Sometimes physical and/or chemical processes can cause a loss of odorant in natural gas, making it undetectable by smell. Odor fade is more likely to occur in the following situations:

  • In new, steel pipe that has been recently manufactured or hasn’t been used for odorized natural gas before
  • In natural gas piping systems using higher gas pressure, and when natural gas flow is limited or intermittent
  • In the presence of rust, mill scale, moisture, air, cutting oil, pipe thread compound, liquids, condensates and other substances

Because of the possibility of odor fade, it's important to not rely only on your sense of smell to be alerted to a natural gas leak.

For a printable copy about odor fade and safe purging practices, see our Safety Brochures and Materials . If you have additional questions or concerns regarding pipe conditioning or odor fade, call us at 1-800-427-2200 or contact a licensed, qualified professional.

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