It takes years to create a farm, but it only takes one call to keep it safe.
April is Safe Digging Month – a month dedicated to the awareness of buried facility damage prevention. TransCanada wants to ensure the safety of anyone digging near our facilities, and no one moves more dirt than North American farmers.
To date, TransCanada has built relationships with more than 60,000 landowners, and many are farmers. Unauthorized digging by contractors, farmers, landscapers and homeowners is a leading cause of pipeline incidents. It is estimated that every three minutes, someone will dig and hit an underground gas, electric, communications, water or sewer line, putting themselves and their communities at risk.
To avoid putting our communities and the environment at risk, always call before you dig. One-Call Centres provide the free service of locating and marking all underground facilities on an excavation site before any digging takes place. The locates indicate where it is safe to dig. One-Call telephone numbers in Canada vary from province to territory, but “811” is the standard telephone number throughout the United States.
Call before you dig – it’s the law
Normal farming practices such as sowing seeds, spreading fertilizer and harvesting can take place without contacting a One-Call Centre. However, in many areas it is the law to call before you dig when any excavation is involved. Practices that require you to call before you dig include:
- Deep tillage or deep plowing
- Fence post installation
- Drainage ditch clean out
- Drain tile installation
- Dozer work
- Building construction
- Controlled burning
How to recognize a pipeline on your property
Most pipelines are buried underground in an area of cleared land often referred to as the “right-of-way” or “ROW.” Markers are used to indicate a pipeline’s approximate location as well as the name of the company, the product, and the emergency number. These markers are typically placed where the pipeline intersects streets, railroads, rivers, fence rows and in heavily congested areas. Do not rely on pipeline markers to show you the pipeline’s exact location, path, or depth. Instead, always call before you dig.
What you can do to help prevent pipeline damages
- Become familiar with the pipelines and pipeline facilities in your area. Watch for marker signs, fence signs and gated facilities.
- TransCanada’s contact information is available on all of our marker signs. For other pipelines in your area, record the operator’s name and contact information from the marker signs and keep the information in a permanent location.
- Be aware of any unusual or suspicious activities or unauthorized excavations taking place within or near the pipeline right-of-way or pipeline facilities. Report these activities to the pipeline operator or local law enforcement.
What to do if you strike a pipeline
A ‘strike’ is any unauthorized contact with a pipeline. It can include mechanical equipment, such as a backhoe or track hoe, or hand tools, such as a shovel. Whether or not the pipe appears to be damaged, if you strike a pipeline, it is important that you follow these steps:
- Stop all excavation. Shut off all machinery and move away from the area on foot – warn others to do the same.
- Do not attempt to repair the pipe or operate any valves.
- Call ‘911’ as soon as you are in a safe location. Describe the situation and inform the operator of any injuries, leaking product or fire.
- Call TransCanada’s emergency number: 1.800.447.8066 in the U.S. and 1.888.982.7222 in Canada and explain the incident. This number is available on all TransCanada pipeline marker signs.
- Do not continue your project until authorized by a TransCanada representative.
- The integrity of the pipeline and the safety of the surrounding population dramatically decrease when a facility is damaged. Contact TransCanada as soon as possible so we can make any necessary repairs.
Dig with C.A.R.E.
- Call before you dig.
- Allow required time for marking – This most often requires at least two business days notice.
- Respect the marks – Lines are marked by flags, paint or other markers (typically yellow for pipelines).
- Excavate carefully – Hand dig to determine exact locations of pipelines. A TransCanada representative must be present and all digging must take place during the time allotted by the TransCanada representative.
By employing safe digging practices, we can protect our farms, families, communities and the environment. As the Common Ground Alliance states, “Buried facility damage prevention is a shared responsibility.”
Read our Safe Digging Month underway blog post.