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FortisBC reminds residents to call before digging as more than 800 gas lines damaged in 2023

A severed natural gas line is seen in a still image from a FortisBC YouTube video. A severed natural gas line is seen in a still image from a FortisBC YouTube video.
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British Columbia natural gas provider FortisBC says there were more than 800 incidents of damage to underground gas lines reported in 2023, with nearly 70 per cent caused by residents or contractors failing to call the utility before digging.

Of the remaining 30 per cent, the company says most incidents involved callers failing to use the information provided appropriately.

Metro Vancouver accounted for the largest share of the 844 incidents reported to the company with 327 incidents, or 39 per cent. The Thompson Okanagan region accounted for 22 per cent of the total with 183 incidents, while Vancouver Island posted the third-highest rate of damage with 132 incidents, or 16 per cent of the total, FortisBC announced Monday.

With the spring gardening season in full swing, the company is reminding British Columbians about the potential for serious injury and costly repairs caused by striking an underground gas line with a shovel or stake.

The company says incidents of damage to underground utility lines have decreased approximately 10 per cent year-over-year since 2020, a decrease the company called "very promising."

"We commend British Columbians for all the work being done to educate and mandate safe digging practices," FortisBC public safety manager Tanya Kowalenko said in the release.

"However, even one incident is one too many. Approximately 90 per cent of damages to our gas lines are preventable by following safe excavation practices―starting with a free call to BC 1 Call."

BC 1 Call is a free service offered by FortisBC that helps residents locate underground utility lines on any property in the province. The service can be contacted online through the BC 1 Call website or by phone at 1-800-474-6886.

"There are many contractors, landscapers and homeowners who still aren’t aware of safe digging practices, which is why we are continuing to see damage," said Chris Hyland, president and CEO of BC 1 Call.

"We are encouraging all British Columbians to learn how to dig safely before disturbing the ground, confirm their landscapers and outdoor DIY project contractors will be using BC 1 Call and spread the word about safe digging." 

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