DEMO: What can happen if you dig irresponsibly and rupture gas pipeline

Published: Apr. 17, 2019 at 5:53 PM EDT
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Contractors and community members gathered in South Bend on Wednesday to find out what happens when a buried gas pipeline is ruptured by irresponsible digging.

“It drives home how serious it is if you actually hit a gas line,” said Darby Miller, the UPPA manager for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. “You're going to have to call 911, you're going to have to have an emergency response. Your job is going to be shut down because you damaged this gas line.”

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission wants the public to know that damaging any underground utility can be very dangerous. That's why on Wednesday, they partnered with South Bend emergency responders for a drill to show what happens when a gas pipeline ruptures.

“If you break open a gas line, you're almost undoubtedly going to smell that,” Miller explained. “You may hear hissing or see bubbling. If you hit something large, you may even see pavement heaving and splitting.”

Preventing these disasters is as easy as calling 811 a few days before you dig. It's completely free, and 811 service will notify all utility companies in your area and send a locator to mark your underground utility lines. Then, you are free to dig.

“Homeowners are required to call 811, even if they're digging on their own property,” said Bruce Dickie, the manager of safety and resources for Selge Construction in Niles. “They need to call in locates. If you're putting in a bush or you're putting in a fence post, if you hit one of these buried facilities without a locate ticket, you will be held responsible.”

“We want you to use the 811 service now, so you don't have to call 911 later,” Miller said.

If you have any questions before you dig, 811 can also direct you to a damage prevention council near you.

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