Excavation Safety Day highlights dangers of utility digging

KERRVILLE – According to Texas 811 officials, every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged in the United States. On Thursday, Texas 811 organized a Hill Country excavation safety day to teach the general public, first responders, contractors and utility companies safety techniques when working on construction projects and what to do if something should go wrong.

If a utility pipeline is ruptured, it can be costly to the utility companies and put the public and workers in danger.

“It would be a huge financial loss. It’s also very dangerous. If somebody is digging around our line, we always have representation out there to make sure that digging around our pipeline is safe. Our No. 1 priority is to make sure that everyone is safe,” said Trent Moody with Phillips 66.

Texas 811 urges contractors and the public to call them before they dig into the ground. Using computer software, Texas 811 then notifies utility companies that might be in the area to alert them to a potential digging location. The utility company then sends out contractors to mark where their pipelines are so that the person or company digging can avoid the lines and a potential disaster.

Although 811 is a national hotline, officials with Texas 811 say that they receive more calls than any other state. Because Texas has so many digging projects, emergency responders say it’s also important for them to know how to respond if a pipeline is accidentally hit.

“It could be jet fuel, it could be gasoline, it could be any types of those hazardous materials,” said William Thomas, emergency management coordinator for Kerr County. “Any time we have to make a response, we need to determine what type of product we’re dealing with in order for us to make an effective response.”

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