Call Before You Dig 811
Safe digging saves lives. Call 811, the “call before you dig” number, to avoid pipelines. It’s the law, and exemptions from these laws should end.
Pipelines can be damaged by people digging into them. These accidents can damage a pipeline and have high consequences, including spills, injuries, or even death. These accidents are also preventable - by dialing 811 before you dig.
The pipeline industry and federal and state governments have made preventing excavation damage a high priority. To protect communities, sensitive environmental areas, and the pipeline itself, the pipeline industry and other operators of underground facilities joined together in creating notification centers that are used by anyone preparing to conduct excavation close to those underground facilities. These centers – called One-Call Centers – serve as the clearinghouse for excavation activities that are planned close to pipelines and other underground utilities. Established by federal law in 2007, 811 is the national "call-before-you-dig" number which informs operators, homeowners, and excavators about the location of underground utilities before they dig to prevent unintentional damage to underground infrastructure, including pipelines.
811 is federal law, but States have the primary responsibility for damage prevention. Show me a reference list of One Call numbers. In some cases, State excavation damage prevention laws are weak, incomplete, or are not adequately enforced. For this reason, Congress gave the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) enforcement authority when a State's One-Call enforcement program is determined "inadequate" by DOT.
Many State One-Call programs contain exemptions that threaten public safety. State agencies, municipalities and other local entities are sometimes exempted from requirements to use the One-Call system before they undertake excavation activities. This means that several States allow some excavators to put heavy, mechanized equipment into the ground without ever checking to see if there are critical underground facilities nearby. These exemptions create a gap in enforcement and safety, because the threat of pipeline damage is the same regardless of who the excavator is or who he works for. The pipeline does not care who hits it. Tell me more about One-Call exemptions.
AOPL urges Congress, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the States to work together to end exemptions and continue pipeline safety gains. DOT should complete its rulemaking about how to use its damage prevention authority previously granted by Congress. Congress should direct DOT to end inappropriate exemptions when using its authority. States should improve their damage prevention laws and enforce them strongly, even when it hurts pipeline operators who might fail to call before they dig.
Excavators need to know about One Call centers so they will take advantage of their pipeline location services. AOPL is a proud member of the Common Ground Alliance, which promotes 811 and develops best practices for call centers and One-Call notifications.