Spring 2014      |      Stephen P. Sands, Registrar      |      Edmund G. Brown Jr., Governor


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CSLB-PG&E Alliance on Pipeline Strikes Praised at Senate Hearing

The first few months of a CSLB-Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) collaboration to reduce damage to natural gas pipelines during construction excavations appears to already be paying dividends. At a March 6, 2014, Senate subcommittee hearing, CSLB was praised for holding accountable any contractor who is identified as failing to make the legally required pre-dig arrangements.

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Formerly chronic violators already have begun to obtain the necessary dig permit tickets from one of California's two Underground Service Alert 8-1-1 notification centers before undertaking excavation projects, and pipeline strikes have been greatly reduced, according to PG&E. The utility also noted that several excavators are now participating in PG&E video testimonials about the need to pull permits.

Nearly two dozen complaints against contractors have been forwarded to CSLB so far. CSLB reviews allegations of unauthorized digging/pipeline strikes and issues decisions that can range from dismissal of the case to license revocation in the most serious instances. Those who fail to call 8-1-1 also are subject to a fine of up to $50,000, and can be held responsible for repair costs.

Anyone who digs into the ground must call 8-1-1 at least two days (but not more than 14 days) in advance to request line markings that identify the location or absence of underground utilities. Notification failures carry serious public consequences. Leaking natural gas from a punctured line can explode, while those who strike an electrical line are at risk of electrocution. Damaged conduits that carry fiber optic or telephone cables can disrupt services to the community and result in costly repairs.

Thanks to the successful partnership between CSLB and PG&E, similar alliances may be forthcoming with other utility companies in the state.

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