Oregon PUC: 8/11 is ‘National Safe Digging Day’

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Public Utility Commission is reminding homeowners and professional contractors of the importance of calling 811 before starting any outdoor digging project. Every six minutes, an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without calling 811 first. Striking a line can cause injury, repair costs, fines and inconvenient outages.

“August 11 (8/11) is a convenient way to promote safe digging and the use of the free 811 service,” said Lori Koho, Utility Safety and Reliability Administrator for the PUC. “Every digging project, no matter how large or small, requires a call to 811 at least two business days before digging to eliminate the risk of striking an underground utility line.”

When calling 811, homeowners and contractors are connected to the Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC), the local one-call center, which notifies the appropriate utility companies of the intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent to the requested digging site to mark the underground lines with color-coded flags, spray paint or both.

“Utility lines need to be properly marked because even when digging only a few inches below the surface, the risk of striking an underground utility line exists,” said Koho. “811 helps maintain the safety of Oregon residents and the reliability of utility services that we all appreciate.”

The Publicity Committee’s campaign for ‘April is Safe Digging Month” can be seen on 20 Tri-Met busses in the Portland-Metro area.

The Publicity Committee’s campaign for ‘April is Safe Digging Month” showed around Portland-Metro on 20 Tri-Met busses advertising our message.  We would like to thank our sponsors, NW Natural and Pacific Power who demonstrate their partnership with the OUNC.

Governor Brown Proclaims April “Oregon Dig Safely Month”

Reminder to call 811 before digging

SALEM, Ore. – In time for spring gardening and home improvement projects, Governor Kate Brown proclaims
April as “Oregon Dig Safely Month”. This serves as a reminder to all Oregon homeowners and contractors to call
811 before digging to have underground facilities, such as natural gas pipelines, electrical utilities,
telecommunication systems, as well as sewer and water lines marked.
“We join the governor in strongly encouraging individuals and companies to call 811 before digging,” said Lisa
Hardie, Oregon Public Utility Commission Chair. “This is an important step when planting a tree, installing a
fence, or doing a major remodel, that will help avoid injury, disruption of utility service for your community,
penalties, and potential repair costs.”

The Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC), who operates the free 811 one-call center, will notify the affected
local utility companies that serve the area of the planned project. Utility staff will visit the project site to mark theapproximate location of the underground lines, pipes and cables in the planned digging area.
“Call 811 at least two and no more than 10 business days before planning to dig,” said Nate Rivera, OUNC Board
Chair. “Please, air on the side of caution and call 811 even if just planting small plants. Some utility lines can runjust a few inches below the surface.”

Statistics show that buried utility lines in the United States are struck every six minutes. In 2016 an estimated
379,000 line strikes occurred nationwide, 20 percent of which were due to insufficient notice to the 811 service.
To reduce the number of line strikes in Oregon, there are strong local partnerships with the OUNC, Oregon
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) to
enhance the communication link and improve safety efforts.
For more information or to request a representative to locate utility lines for an upcoming digging project, call 811or visit digsafelyoregon.com.

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OUNC News Release related to the solar eclipse on 8/21/17

On Monday, August 21, 2017 the state of Oregon will experience a total solar eclipse. State officials are expecting an influx of one million visitors to the state for several days on either side of the eclipse. The large number of visitors and Oregonians interested in this special event are being advised to prepare for large crowds, significant traffic impacts, possible cell service disruption, and other impacts that can be reviewed at http://www.oregon.gov/oem/hazardsprep/Pages/2017-Total-Solar-Eclipse.aspx.

The Oregon Utility Notification Center (OUNC) is advising excavators to be aware of these impacts when scheduling work and calling 811 for locates. Many facility operators are making arrangements to address the potential traffic impacts. If possible, excavators may want to schedule work around August 21st. An excavator planning to start work around August 21, may want to consider calling 811 early if possible. Locators will be facing heavy traffic throughout the region. The OUNC encourages all facility operators, locators, and excavators to communicate with each other at all times and especially during this total solar eclipse. All OUNC rules and regulations are still in effect throughout this special event.

The OUNC is the Oregon state agency that administers Oregon’s excavation laws and statewide locate requests. The OUNC’s mission is to operate and maintain a state-of-the-art one-call system for the State of Oregon to reduce damages to underground facilities and to promote public safety related to excavation issues. The OUNC reminds excavators and homeowners to “Know what’s below, call before you dig.”

Portland Natural Gas Explosion

The OPUC Investigation of the Natural Gas Explosion in NW Portland is complete. The OUNC Board will study the findings and if any corrections or additions to the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR) are found that could have prevented this incident, the OAR’s will be revised.

Download Gas Incident Documents:
2016-10-19 NWN Incident Report – NW 23rd and Glisan RPT
2016-10-19 NWN Incident Report – NW 23rd and Glisan Appendix A