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National 811 Day efforts highlight the importance of contacting 811 before digging

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Aug. 11, 2021 — Summertime is here and for many homeowners, and that means do-it-yourself home improvement projects like planting a tree or installing a fence or deck.

Aug. 11 is National 811 Day, and Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) reminds residents and professional contractors across the region that the date serves as an important cue to always contact VA811 before starting any outdoor digging project.

“Safety is paramount for our team members, customers and the community,” said Rus Hayslett, vice president of Operations at Virginia Natural Gas. “The danger of striking an underground utility is real and making the simple call to 811 can protect your family and helps keep communities safe.”

The Common Ground Alliance, a national nonprofit organization working to protect underground utility lines, says damage to covered pipe and cable happens once every few minutes because of digging near unmarked utility lines. While large excavation projects often cause these mistakes, a homeowner’s simple mailbox installation or even a modest gardening project can lead to striking infrastructure that is right underground. In the first six months of this year, nearly 20% of the damages to VNG underground facilities were caused by homeowners who did not contact VA811.

Whether a homeowner with a shovel or a professional excavator with an earthmover, Virginia state law requires a call to 811 at least three business days before starting any digging project. Virginia Natural Gas has more than 5,500 miles of underground natural gas pipeline along with other utility companies’ underground communication cables, water and sewer lines. Knowing the location of underground utilities helps prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient service outages.

When homeowners and contractors connect with Virginia 811, it notifies the appropriate utility companies of the intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent – for free – to the requested dig site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, paint or both.

Virginia Natural Gas encourages homeowners and contractors to follow these safe digging guidelines and always dig with CARE:

  • Call or Click Before You DigBefore starting any outdoor digging project, customers should dial 811 or visit at least three days in advance to request to have underground utility lines marked. Requests to have utility operators locate underground lines, including natural gas, electric, water, sewer, telephone and cable lines, can be made 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free. 
  • Allow the Required Time for Marking: After contacting Virginia 811, wait for underground utility lines to be marked before digging. Locators will mark the approximate location of buried lines with color-coded spray paint, flags or stakes corresponding to the utility. The color used for natural gas is yellow. 
  • Respect the MarksOnly use hand digging tools to carefully uncover the area around a utility line when you need to dig near location markers.
  • Excavate CarefullyMake sure the marks remain visible during the project. If the lines are damaged or removed, customers are encouraged to contact Virginia 811 to have lines remarked.
  • If a natural gas line is damaged accidentally or the distinctive rotten-egg odor associated when natural gas is present, call 911 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 equipment that might cause a spark or create an open flame.
  • Learn more about natural gas safety at


About Virginia Natural Gas
Virginia Natural Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Virginia Natural Gas provides clean, safe, reliable and affordable natural gas service to more than 300,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in southeast Virginia. Consistently ranked in the top quartile for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates, the company also has been recognized by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Virginia Oil and Gas Association for its safety, innovation, environmental stewardship, community outreach and educational programs, and has been named Local Distribution Company of the year four times since 2015. The company has been ranked by its business customers as one of the most Trusted Business Partners in the utility industry according to Cogent Reports, and as one of the Top Workplaces in Hampton Roads by Inside Business. For more information, visit and connect with the company on FacebookTwitter,  Instagram and LinkedIn.

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 4.3 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states and approximately 666,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines, and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit

Media Contact:
Rick DelaHaya
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