In the wake of a number of instances of damage to natural gas lines, the Public Utilities Commission is again warning contractors and homeowners to call 811 before they dig or drive stakes into the ground.
The spokesman said the utility will gladly come out and mark the location of gas lines to avoid damage.
“Not calling 811 and blindly driving in stakes places workers and the general public at risk,” according to Public Information Officer Peter Kostes.
He said gas utilities normally bury natural gas pipelines but that safety regulations only require they be 12 inches underground on private property including residential and commercial properties.
If a gas line is damaged and leaking, senior pipeline engineer Neil Pascual said immediately cease work, evacuate the immediate area and call 911 from a safe place and contact the utility operator.
Kostes said under state law, failure to follow the laws can result in penalties of up to $2,500 a day per violation, up to a maximum of $250,000 a year.
The PUC issued more than 25 civil penalties in 2019 to excavators and operators, resulting in fines totaling more than $100,000.