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Spring Digging Season is Here: Why You Should Dial 8-1-1 to Safely Start an Outdoor Project

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – March 30, 2017 – With spring here and the ground ready for digging, homeowners and excavators are gearing up to start outdoor projects they had been waiting to tackle all winter. April marks the traditional start of digging season, which increases the chance of damaging underground utility lines, including natural gas lines. That is why it is necessary to call 8-1-1 before digging.

Virginia Natural Gas is joining other utilities, one-call centers and damage prevention advocates across the country to encourage residents to call 8-1-1 before they begin any digging project to prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages.

Calling 8-1-1 connects to Virginia Utility Protection Service, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of the intent to dig. Professional locators then are sent free of charge to the requested digging sites to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags or spray paint. Yellow paint indicates presence of underground natural gas pipelines. Once lines have been accurately marked, it is important that residents respect the marks and use the appropriate tools to dig.

To protect underground utilities and to help ensure that communities stay safe and connected, Virginia Natural Gas is providing homeowners and professional excavators with the following safe digging guidelines:

  • Call 8-1-1 Before You Dig: When starting an outdoor project involving digging, customers are advised to make contacting Virginia Utility Protection Service at 8-1-1 or 1-800-552-7001 part of their plans. Calls to the free locating service can be made up to 14 days in advance. The requests to have utility operators mark underground facilities, including natural gas, water, cable, telephone and electric lines, can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Allow the Required Time for Marking: Before doing any digging, customers are urged to call 8-1-1 and wait the required time to have underground utility lines marked. The approximate location of underground utility lines will be marked with color-coded spray paint, flags or stakes that correspond to the utility. The color used for natural gas is yellow. 
  • Respect the Marks: Once the lines are marked, use the appropriate digging methods, which may include hand tools, and dig no closer than 24 inches from the marked utility lines.
  • Excavate Carefully: Make sure the marks remain visible during the project. If the lines are damaged or removed, customers are encouraged to call 8-1-1 to have lines re-marked. If a natural gas line is damaged accidentally or the distinct odor of gas is present, call 9-1-1 or the Virginia Natural Gas 24-hour emergency phone line at 1-877-572-3342 from a safe location. Do not operate any machinery or any equipment that might cause a spark.
For information about natural gas safety, visit www.virginianaturalgas.com/safety.

About Virginia Natural Gas
Virginia Natural Gas is one of seven natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Virginia Natural Gas provides natural gas service to 293,000 customers in southeast Virginia.  Virginia Natural Gas has been recognized as one of the safest, most reliable and customer-focused natural gas service providers, and in 2016 was ranked second in customer satisfaction among mid-size utilities in the South and third nationally by J.D. Power and Associates. Also in 2016, Virginia Natural Gas was recognized as an Environmental Champion by Cogent™ Reports and as the Local Distribution Company of the Year by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Virginia Oil and Gas Association. For more information, visit www.virginianaturalgas.com and connect with the company on Facebook (Facebook.com/VaNaturalGasCo) and Twitter (Twitter.com/VaNaturalGas).

About Southern Company Gas
Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company.  Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.6 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in seven states and more than 1 million retail customers through its companies that market natural gas and related home services. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines, asset management for natural gas wholesale customers and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit Southern Company Gas at southerncompanygas.com.

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Media Contact:
Duane Bourne 
o: 757.616.7510  |  c: 757.955.0363 |  dbourne@southernco.com