Everyone that digs is an excavator, including our natural gas industry. Underground damages are a top concern for our industry, not because of only operations challenges but because of public safety. These damages occur from simply digging with a shovel to operating a backhoe and other excavation equipment in the wrong location.
At this time there are too many damages in Florida, and luckily we haven’t had deaths or injuries like other states recently with damages to the pipelines or utilities. In a survey of our membership, between 35-64 percent of damages to gas pipelines and distribution lines are a result of no locates being requested from the Sunshine 811 for underground work and the remaining are mostly because of insufficient excavation practices.
Stricter enforcement of Chapter 556 or the “Call Before You Dig” law is needed in Florida. First, so we can protect out infrastructure and the public; and second, so we can ensure our compliance with federal regulations on pipeline safety.
The members of the Florida Natural Gas Association continue to work with the legislature to assist us in reducing these damages through increased enforcement of Chapter 556. Along with this effort, the Florida Natural Gas Association is educating firefighters across the state on the best practices to respond to damages so we can keep communities safe.