Industry News – Fall 2018


A new Wisconsin Law (part of the 2018 PSC Reform Bill) that took effect in early July provides an enforcement program for stakeholders in the damage prevention industry.

Beginning in July, Diggers Hotline will receive complaints regarding violations to state statute 182.0175 regarding natural gas or other hazardous materials facilities. Once receiving a complaint, Diggers Hotline will begin a process that is outlined by state law that includes communication with the alleged offending party, and then sharing the response to that communication and other facts of the case with a panel of stakeholders. The stakeholders will serve as a peer review panel and determine whether or not there is probable cause that the alleged offending party knew, or should have known, it was in violation of 182.0175.

If the panel decides there is probable cause of a violation, they then decide if education is needed or if the case should be referred to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. If the case goes to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, the commission can dismiss the case, enter into a consent agreement or issue a fine of up to $25,000 per offense.

PG&E’s Francois Rongere Receives American Gas Association Award

Francois Rongere, Manager of Research and Development (R&D) for Pacific Gas and Electric Company, was honored in June by the American Gas Association as the 2018 recipient of the John B. McGowan, Sr. Research Award. The prestigious award recognizes an individual or company who has made an outstanding contribution to improving natural gas system safety, delivery, design, construction, operation, maintenance or efficiency through their research efforts.

Under his leadership, PG&E works collaboratively with other forward-thinking companies, research institutions and government agencies to develop tools for PG&E, often with the goal to make them available to the global natural gas industry.

Francois is the Chairman of the Research Steering Committee at the Pipeline Research Council International, and of NYSEARCH, the R & D committee of the Northeast Gas Association. He joined PG&E after 20 years of experience at Electricite de France.


Lake News Online – With campaign season picking up across Missouri, Summit Natural Gas is reminding candidates and their staffs to be mindful of underground utilities when placing large campaign signs. Any large signs that require digging, excavation or driving fence posts into the ground pose a risk of hitting an underground facility like a natural gas pipeline, electrical line or fiber optic cable.

“At Summit, safety is our top priority. It is important for those running for office, supporting a candidate or working for or against a ballot measure to ‘know what’s below’ before putting up campaign signs,” said Phil Marcum, Business Development Senior Manager for Summit Utilities.

For more information about Missouri’s safe dig rules, visit

NJBPU Earns Perfect Score On Federal Evaluation

Daily Energy Insider — The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) received a perfect score on a federal government evaluation of the enforcement of its excavation damage prevention law. “I am so proud to announce this achievement,” said NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “Our team here at NJBPU works very hard to enforce this law and ensure that we are doing all we can to protect our pipelines and keep New Jersey residents safe.”

The NJBPU Reliability and Security Division has a satellite office in the state One Call Center to enable real-time awareness and notification of locator delays, emergencies and any other risks.


Dixie Contractor – The Georgia Utility Contractors Association (GUCA) honored Claudette Campbell of Georgia811 with the 2017-2018 GUCA Lifetime Industry Achievement Award. Campbell has held the positions of Executive Director and President/CEO of Georgia811.

Georgia was one of the first 10 states to form a nationwide One Call system. Campbell was a member of the original One Call Systems International (OCSI) and then became chair of the Georgia Utilities Coordinating Council. She was also a national board member of the American Public Works Association. After serving as the OCSI Chair, she was appointed to serve as a public member of the Technical Pipeline Safety Standards Committee, which then led to her appointment on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) task force. Campbell also helped form the Southeastern One Call System in the early 1990s.


Damage Prevention Professional has been on the road visiting some of the great industry events. Here are just a few we visited this last quarter.

ASSP Safety 2018, June 3-6, San Antonio, TX

The world’s oldest professional safety society, American Society of Safety Professionals, placed their new name and logo on display at its Safety 2018 Professional Development Conference & Exhibition. With almost 240 sessions to choose from and more than 600 exhibitors, the 5,000 safety professionals in attendance had no problem finding topics and information that addressed their professional concerns in the occupational safety and health industry. Next year: June 9-12, New Orleans!

AWWA ACE18: June 11-14, Las Vegas, NV

With more than 1,000 exhibitors and 22,000 attendees, the ACE Conference set a goal to inspire and connect the water sector with innovative solutions and new insights to help solve our global water challenges. Badge swapping with the NFPA Conference & Expo (National Fire Protection Association), this year’s event was an outstanding success. The event featured a great new technology area and two case studies will be presented in upcoming issues of Damage Prevention Professional. Next year: June 9-12, Denver!

2018 NACAA AM/PIC, July 29-Aug 2, Chattanooga, TN

Farmers are an important stakeholder group when it comes to damage prevention and, as their most trusted resource, the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) is the best way to reach them with the safe digging message. The 2018 NACAA AM/PIC Conference was an exceptional event that brought together extension professionals from around the U.S. The Pipeline Ag Safety Alliance (PASA) had the privilege to meet face-to-face with ag agents to discuss the importance of safe digging, learn about utility damages that have happened around the U.S. and how we can work together in the name of safety. Agents discussed how they are currently sharing safe digging messages with their clients and received new safety tools distributed by PASA to help us all grow safely together. Next Year: September 8-12, Fort Wayne, IN!

27th World Gas Conference, June 25-29, Washington D.C.

Conducted since 1931 by the International Gas Union (IGU), the triennial World Gas Conference aims to raise the voice of natural gas while offering timely updates on strategic, commercial and technical issues facing the entire gas value chain. With over 350 exhibitors, 600 speakers, and 12,000 attendees it is the largest global gas conference.

The Employee, Public, and Customer Safety: An Integrated Strategy session, part of the event, was moderated by AGA’s COO, Lori Traweek. Howard “Skip” Elliott, PHMSA Administrator, kicked it off and made the point that Gas/ Oil transported through pipelines reaches its destination without incident 99.997% of the time. That translates to only 300 incidents in every million.

Panel member Nick Stavropoulos, PG&E President & COO, came to PG&E nine months after the San Bruno event and has made it PG&E’s mission to be the safest gas company in the world. He talked about building a culture that focuses on safety as its highest priority. PG&E created a program called “Speak up, Listen up, Follow-up” to ensure every employee at every level can contribute to improving safety. To make this push real and not just a slogan, every employee has an app which allows them to issue corrective action.

To ensure the “follow-up” part of the plan, the person who issues the corrective action request gets to grade the result. This self-diagnostic system combined with the accountability built into the system makes it very effective.

To encourage participation and zero in on improving, the focus is placed on what failed, not who failed. Nick also pushed the value in calling 811 and in promoting its use.

He discussed a recent event where disaster was averted. PG&E has the exact GPS location of the centerline on all high-pressure lines. This GPS data combined with aerial patrol helped prevent a disaster the week prior to the presentation. Their pilot found a farmer hitting their pipeline and they were able to respond within 20 minutes thanks to the pilot seeing it.

Jose Carlos Broisler Oliver, Vice-Chairman of Comgas (Brazil), which employs about 5,000 employees and has 1.3 mil customers, was also on the panel. They build about 1,000 km/year, and connect about 400 new customers per day. He believes safety is an endless journey. One of the areas they really focus on is the use of phones while driving. In the past, two people died in confined spaces, so they have eliminated all confined spaces.

Dennis Vidmar, Safety, Health & Environment Manager for ExxonMobil PNG LNG, believes safety is about people and safety happens through discussions. Dennis managed the project in Papua New Guinea (PNG) which used over 10,000 people during construction. They have six core values and the first one is safety. During this project, they had people speaking over 800 different languages and dialects. As a part of their focus on communication, they used “leadership walks” to talk about risk with people on the right-of-way, and utilized a village liaison program. On February 26, 2018, they experienced a 7.5 earthquake which caused huge problems, but their open, well established channels of communication helped minimize the damage. Mr. Vidmar believes in making safety personal.

Overall, the World Gas Conference was very upbeat and the focus on safety by virtually all attendees was clear. During the U.S. Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry’s keynote, he did a great job combining a positive outlook on production with an emphasis on the fact that pipelines are by far the safest method of transporting natural gas. Next event: 2021, Daegu, South Korea!

Washington Company Penalized $10,000

KIRO 7 News – SEFNCO, a communications company located in Puyallup, Washington, agreed to pay at $10,000 fine in June for violating Washington state’s “Call Before You Dig” law that resulted in the puncture of a jet fuel pipeline. The fine was announced by the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC). Officials said SEFNCO hit and punctured a six-inch McChord Pipeline that transports jet fuel from a Tacoma tide flats refinery to Joint Base Lews McChord while drilling to install a cable line.

UTC investigators found that SEFNCO failed to properly mark the excavation area before excavating.

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