April is National Safe Digging Month

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – With spring here and the ground ready for digging, Virginia Natural Gas is committed to enhancing the safety of homeowners and excavators as they gear up to start outdoor projects. Whether putting in a fence, planting a tree or building a deck, knowing where the utility lines are before you dig helps prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient utility outages.

Nationwide, an underground utility line is damaged once every six minutes because someone decided to dig without first contacting Virginia 811, according to Common Ground Alliance. CGA is a national advocacy organization focused on preventing damage to underground infrastructure.

Contacting Virginia 811 notifies the appropriate utility companies of the intent to dig. Utility representatives are then sent, free of charge, to the requested digging sites to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags or spray paint. If Virginia Natural Gas has natural gas pipelines in the area, their approximate location will be marked with yellow paint and/or flags. Once all lines have been marked, it is important that residents and excavators respect the marks and use the appropriate tools to dig with care and according to legal, safe digging practices. For information about safe digging best practices and other valuable damage prevention information, please refer to recommendations outlined by the Common Ground Alliance at commongroundalliance.com/programs/best-practices.

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 or Click Before You Dig: When starting an outdoor digging project, customers are advised to dial 811 or visit va811.com to request to have underground utility lines marked at least three days in advance. Requests to have utility operators mark underground lines, including natural gas, electric, water, sewer, telephone and cable lines, can be made 24-hours a day, seven days a week and is free
  • Allow the Required Time for Marking: After contacting Virginia 811, wait the required time to have underground utility lines marked before digging. 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: Only use hand digging tools to carefully uncover the area around a utility line when you need to dig close by. 
  • Excavate Carefully: Make 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 with 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.

For more information about natural gas safety, visit virginianaturalgas.com/safety.

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 natural gas service to nearly 300,000 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 is consistently ranked in the top quartile for customer satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates. In 2018, Virginia Natural Gas was named Local Distribution Company of the Year by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy and the Virginia Oil and Gas Association for the third consecutive year. For more information, visit virginianaturalgas.com and connect with the company on Facebook and Twitter.

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 www.southerncompanygas.com.

Media Contact:
Jennifer Golz
o: 630.388.3737  |  c: 331.222.8716 |  jgolz@southernco.com