Page 22 - Alabama 811 Magazine
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 How many times have you heard those three words as related to real estate? They also relate to aboveground utilities, underground utilities and especially pipelines.
First, what is a utility? For purposes
of this discussion, anything that moves something from one place to another or is related to movement of goods or services. Can you say roads, railroads, rivers, lakes, oceans, wires, fiber cables, airports, or pipelines? Second, what is being moved? Anything – information; electricity, gasses, liquids (hazardous or not); goods (hazardous or not) and even people.
The essential element – moving something from one place to another – transportation.
Question (not rhetorical): Which would you rather live next to: An interstate highway; a railroad; an airport; or an underground pipeline? The answer: It depends.
Locating transportation these days is a BIG problem. Can you say, “Not in MY back yard”?
Location is important. Everyone wants to be able to get to and from work,
to and from shopping, to and from medical care, to and from friends and family, to and from recreation quickly, etc., etc., etc. quickly and efficiently (cheaply?). Almost nobody wants the hazards associated with transportation – air pollution, water pollution, congestion, scenic disruption, traffic, whatever.
There are utility corridors almost everywhere anyone lives in the United States. Above ground utilities are
easy to see and it is easy to recognize many of the dangers associated with above ground utilities. Underground utilities are a horse of a different
color. When you stick a shovel in the ground, it is extremely important to try to identify what is below ground. If there is something that can cause injury (besides a sore back or the hole caving in on you), you might want to know
fencing contractor that he needed to “CALL BEFORE YOU DIG!!” I even called 811 with the contractor standing there but he was not ready to pull a one-call ticket. No call was ever made. They hit a utility-owned service line (NOT on MY property) and caused
a gas leak. They were lucky, no one was injured and there was no fire.
The utility that performed the repairs charged almost $1,000. (Judging by the number of personnel that was involved, the equipment that was mobilized, and the time that they were on site, the utility did not charge enough.)
Talk about a near miss!! Accidents do NOT care about your politics. And accidents can happen almost anywhere. Be aware of your surroundings and
IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING!! In the words of Ron White (a comedian), “You can’t fix stupid.” But shame on you if you don’t at least try.
20 • Alabama 811 2023, Issue 2
Location!! Location!! Location!!
utilities are
a horse of
a different
Postscript: Last column, I mentioned that by law dated December 23, 2022, PHMSA was required by Congress
to issue a final rule on automatic and remote-controlled shut-off valves no later than April 22, 2023 or get docked $5,000 per day. As of March 27, 2023, crickets. Anyone want to place a bet that PHMSA will get the rule in place by April 22nd?
We live in strange times. Be safe out there!!
John Jacobi retired from PHMSA. For questions or comments, email:
about it and be a little more careful. Bottom line, if you are digging, call 811 to get underground utilities marked, wait for the “all clear” or the utilities to be marked, and, if there are utilities marked, be even more careful when digging near the marks.
Last year a neighbor wanted me to chip in and pay for half of a common fence between our properties. I agreed and I very specifically told her that she needed to “call before you dig.” I also very specifically told her “shade tree”

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