In the past month excavation contractors in the area have torn up a gasoline pipeline in a Centreville subdivision and a natural-gas line next to a Potomac home. The latter incident resulted in injuries to two workers, and both accidents involved major property damage.

While these accidents and many others could have been avoided by the contractors, there also are things the public can do to help prevent such incidents.

Consumers should voice their safety concerns to contractors. Consumers also should make sure that contractors have taken steps to determine the location of any underground pipes before they start digging. If either natural-gas or petroleum lines have been located, they will be indicated by yellow paint, flags or wooden stakes. Consumers should not assume that contractors, on their own, have called Miss Utility, a free locating and marking service for all underground utility lines, as required by state and local regulations.

There are risks associated with all forms of energy, and we should be vigilant in helping to control these risks. The more contractors do to locate underground lines prior to excavating with powered equipment, the fewer accidents we can expect to occur.


Vice President, Distribution

Washington Gas Light Company