Before you dig or if you hit a line
Safety starts with you! Whether you are a contractor or homeowner, planning general landscaping projects or major construction work,
you need to ensure you are not digging or encroaching on underground facilities. If you cut a line while digging, you could put yourself
and those around you in danger, while also jeopardizing your community’s access to vital emergency services.
Contact Sask 1st Call a minimum of three full working days before starting any outdoor project to have the underground lines marked free of charge.
What are the steps for completing a digging project?
When should I get a line locate?
No job is too small or too big. Contact Sask 1st Call a minimum of three full working days before doing ANY digging, landscaping, excavating, or construction work, such as:
- Decks and patios
- Trees and shrubs
- Water features
- Garages and sheds
- Any concrete work
How can I prevent a line hit?
Don’t guess how deep the lines are or assume no lines exist. Get a line locate. Natural gas lines can be buried just a few inches below ground or more than a metre
below the surface. As the ground settles or grade changes are made (soil is added or removed) the lines can become closer to the surface. When digging, be sure to:
- Expose the gas line by hand within one metre on either side of the flags before using any mechanical digging equipment or machinery near the marked area. Once you see the lines, you can use other digging and excavating equipment, such as an auger or backhoe, at a safe distance from the lines.
- Plant trees at least one metre away from locate marks. More distance is required if you are planting larger trees using machinery such as a tree spade. If you are unsure, contact SaskEnergy before planting.
What if I am only building on the surface and not digging?
- You still need to be aware of the location of underground services. Building any structure, such as a garage, shed, deck, or patio over underground lines or within a utility easement can become a safety hazard.
- For your safety, and in the case of an emergency, if SaskEnergy has to access a line located under a structure on your property, you will be responsible for all associated costs to make the situation right.
- If underground natural gas infrastructure is identified within the area you are trying to build, contact SaskEnergy to help you determine whether your structure is acceptable or if it should be redesigned to avoid becoming a safety hazard or access concern.
What can happen if I hit a line?
Some of the consequences of a line hit include:
- Lengthy service outages for customers in the area.
- Equipment damages.
- Costs for which you will be charged, including the costs of SaskEnergy’s time and resources to respond, repairs to the line, restoring service to affected customers, the cost of escaping natural gas, and - in some areas of Saskatchewan - the fire department and other First Responder costs. These expenses can add up to be thousands of dollars.
- Fines and legal action.
- Personal injury or death.
What should I do if I hit a line?
If you suspect a natural gas line has been damaged:
- Call SaskEnergy’s 24-Hour Emergency number, 1-888-700-0427 and 911. Any line damage, no matter how minor, must be reported to SaskEnergy. Damage includes nicks to the coating on steel pipe and scratches to plastic pipe.
- Turn off machinery and eliminate all sources of ignition.
- Shut off vehicle engines.
- Remove any sources of ignition and extinguish cigarettes or any open flame.
- Evacuate the area, including buildings. Move people upwind if possible.
- Prevent vehicles and bystanders from entering the area.
- Call the fire department if there is a danger of fire.
- Avoid contact with any natural gas escaping from the pipeline.
- Notify people in nearby buildings, as gas might enter through drains if the break or leak is underground or through fresh air intakes and windows if gas leak is in the air.
Learn to recognize signs of a natural gas leak . You may be able to detect a gas leak from a pipeline by sight, smell or sound.
- Attempt to repair the leak or stop escaping gas.
- Turn electrical switches on or off.
- Operate any machinery, including vehicles.
How does SaskEnergy respond to a line hit?
To repair a hit line and restore service, generally SaskEnergy will:
- Make the area safe by identifying the source of the problem and ensuring the site has been cleared of anyone whose safety may be at risk. This may include evacuation of nearby homes or buildings and, if necessary, shutting down the natural gas and/or electrical power to the area.
- Dig down to the line.
- Shut off the line upstream of the break to stop the flow of natural gas.
- Make the repair to the line.
- If required, gain access to each home or building to re-light the furnace and natural gas appliance pilot lights.
SaskEnergy investigates every hit line. Depending on the nature of the hit line, other organizations, such as the local fire department, may be involved.