After two major natural gas pipeline explosions in Iowa, the utility companies are reminding all Iowans to dig safe, respect underground facilities and use the Iowa One Call System.
Iowa law requires everyone to contact the state's Iowa One Call System (dial 811) before beginning any type of digging or excavating so that underground facilities can be located and identified with ground markings. The dangers of not knowing what is underground while digging are more apparent than ever after two major incidents in Iowa last week. In two separate cases, workers were digging in the ground and hit natural gas transmission pipelines. Each incident resulted in an explosion, and two people suffered burns and other injuries.
On April 25, a crew was using machinery to install drainage tile in a field in Plymouth County in northwest Iowa, when they hit a natural gas pipeline resulting in a fiery explosion. Just two days later, a different crew was installing drainage tile in a field in Jackson County in eastern Iowa when they hit a different natural gas pipeline, which also resulted in a huge explosion.
Third-party damage via excavation - whether by hand shovels or machinery - is one of the primary causes of ruptures and damage to natural gas pipelines. The best way to avoid digging into an underground facility is to follow the requirements of the law and notify Iowa One Call at least 48-hours prior to the commencement of any excavation (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays).
Remember: safe excavation and digging begins with calling 811
"Incidents like the two recent pipeline explosions can be, and should be avoided. Employing safe, responsible excavating practices is vital and always includes proper use of the Iowa One Call Notification System. To contact Iowa One Call, all a person has to do is dial 811 from any landline or cellular telephone. It's a free call and it's a free service," says Ben Booth, manager of public relations for Iowa One Call.
While these two high-profile pipeline incidents happened in farm fields, the underground facilities infrastructure is vast and can be damaged by digging just about anywhere, including a person's own backyard. "This is about safeguarding life, health and essential services. The law is very specific about the requirements to notify the Iowa One Call System prior to all excavations in Iowa. The ramifications of not calling before you dig can be extremely serious," says Booth.
For more information about Iowa One Call, please visit the Iowa One Call website at http://www.iowaonecall.com.