Stop and call 811 before digging, officials say

Multiple agencies collaborated Friday for a free event to show the public the proper steps to take when starting a digging project. First responders, utility, oil and gas, and county personnel were all on-hand to demonstrate a mock natural gas pipeline rupture.

"What we’re trying to prevent is any type of accidents or injuries to anybody that could be using a backhoe or any kind of equipment that digs," said John Wagner, Atmos Energy. "We’re teaching them how to call in for a locate, what to look for when they get there, and what to do when they get there,” he continued.

Officials told ABC 7, smoke, a loud hissing noise and even injuries can occur when a gas line is hit. They also noted, a pipeline incident can range from nicking the line to cracking the line and chemicals being released.

“You could have a flash fire, people could get burned, you can have gas asphyxiation. It all depends on what type of chemical is being transported or what kind of products in the pipeline that they ruptured,” warned Wagner.

By Texas law, everyone is required to call Texas 811 prior to beginning any digging project, regardless of how small or how big.

“Say you’re working on your house and you want to put something as small as a mailbox in, then you want to call 811 and say, 'hey, I’m going to be putting a mailbox in front of my property.' Once you call in 811 and give us the information, the locators then have two working days to go out there," said Jose Ortega, Texas 811. "We’ll need to know what type of work that you’re doing, where you’re working and basic contact information,” he added.

For more information on digging protocol and underground utility lines, visit

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