By Mella McEwen
Thousands of miles of line of varying diameter — from the fiber optics carrying telephone, television and Internet to larger metal pipes carrying water, sewer, natural gas and petroleum products — lie underground.
For the most part, people and pipelines peacefully coexist. But on occasion errant digging can result in anything from water or sewer spills to deadly explosions or releases of poisonous hydrogen sulfide gases.
“There are so many pipelines underground. We want people to understand the importance of dialing 811 before digging and making sure lines are marked,” said Melissa Brannon, damage prevention manager with Texas 811.
She was in Midland Friday to participate in Permian Basin Safety Day, a training and safety event at the Midland Horseshoe. Among the events were a mock natural gas line strike, presented by Chevron and a high- voltage accident scenario presented by Powerline Energy Service.
The law requires anyone planning to dig to call 811, and then entities have 48 hours to mark the location of any lines where excavation is planned. Even homeowners are urged to call 811 because they could breach Atmos natural gas lines or Oncor electric lines.