The experiences of a recent Piedmont Locating Services customer offer a prime example of why it’s always wise to hire an expert utility locating consultant, even after the local one-call system has been contacted.
Our client, a mid-sized regional commercial builder, was working at a public school with a student population on site. This contractor’s work required excavation in several locations around the property and for whatever reason, he kept finding “surprises” every time one of his workers put a shovel in the ground. When a telecommunications duct containing a fiber optic cable was broken one morning last week, in an area previously “cleared” by the local 811 locators, our client decided he’d had enough and went in search of a better solution. He found Piedmont Locating Services.
When I arrived the next morning I was shown a small pit with an exposed, broken telecom innerduct containing two telecommunications cables. Luckily the cables were undamaged, but there were no marks anywhere near the site when I arrived. I traced the entire path of this facility from its origin to its building entry and found no previous markings anywhere along the route.
To make a long story short I marked out the telephone cable in question, broadband cable and a three-phase power circuit the contractor was aware of (but were unmarked), and discovered a second telephone cable less than five feet from the excavation pit. Nearby I also found an unknown utility and an abandoned piece of natural gas piping stubbed up behind the existing gas meter.
The client had a second site, a courtyard surrounded on three sides by classrooms and a gymnasium that he also needed me to investigate. Private power cabling was found in this area as well as a natural gas stub where an old meter had been removed.
Gas stubs like this are very dangerous because while they are often referred to as abandoned, they are many times still connected to an active main pipeline and thus still contain gas. The line traced right through the middle of my client’s proposed excavation and could have easily resulted in a fire or an explosion had it remained unlocated.
Both the gas stub and the two telephone cables I found on this site should have been marked by a local 811 technician. Any of these facilities, if broken, could have resulted in an unplanned work stoppage, blown budgets, unnecessary repair bills, and senseless legal headaches for all parties involved.
The law requires all excavators in the state of North Carolina to use our 811, one-call system and notify utility owners of their intent to excavate anywhere within the state, but as this example has shown, compliance with the law doesn’t mean everything that can be marked will be marked.
At Piedmont Locating Services we offer our clients a better alternative – let us manage the damage prevention process for you. After nearly twenty years working within the 811 supported damage prevention system, I am uniquely qualified to assess your work site with you, determine what areas need to be located, pre-stake these areas prior to locate requests, and follow up behind 811 technicians and prevent unwanted “surprises” from ruining your schedule, your budget, or your day. Call today and let’s become partners in damage prevention.