Call before you dig: Kentucky PSC investigates nearly 1,000 pipeline damages

Published: Jul. 22, 2019 at 5:25 AM CDT
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The Kentucky Public Service Commission took over enforcement of the "call-before-you-dig" statute about a year ago. Since then, the PSC has investigated nearly 1,000 damages to pipelines and issued over 400 citations.

About 44% of those citations stem from contractors either failing to call 811 or failing to excavate a location properly. 42% concerned natural gas operators who did not locate gas lines accurately. 8% of the violations were from land or homeowners who dug improperly or simply did not call 811.

Kentucky's call-before-you-dig law requires that anyone planning to excavate a piece of land must call 811 two business days before the project begins. The advance notice gives 811 service representatives ample time to make sure gas lines are located and marked appropriately

Failing to call or dig properly can result in fines up to $4,000. The PSC offers training sessions to first-time violators, in exchange for a reduction in fines, which the organization spends on training and outreach.

PSC Chairman Michael Schmitt said the organization is working to inform the public about gas lines to lower those numbers in the future.

“This level of excavation damage to natural gas lines is unacceptable and poses a significant threat to public safety,” Schmitt said. “The PSC hopes that consistent enforcement, combined with a comprehensive effort at educating stakeholders and the public, will start reducing the number of dig-in incidents in Kentucky.”