CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A contributing factor in many gas leaks in the Charleston area is contractors and homeowners failing to notify proper agencies of their road projects, according to SCE&G officials.
"Many dig-ins are caused by construction crews or homeowners who fail to get their utility lines marked," said Kim Asbill, a spokeswoman for SCE&G.
Asbill says in some cases, contractors are digging without knowing where the gas lines are located.
"We're finding more and more that's related to folks not calling 811 to locate the gas lines before they begin the digging process," Asbill said.
Asbill said it is important, no matter how large or small the digging project may be, for contractors and homeowners to call 811, 3 days in advance before digging so that all utility lines can all be marked.
"The depth of the utility lines varies, and there may be multiple utility lines in a common area," Asbill said."Calling 811 is a free service and it's the law."
According to Asbill, failure to notify prior to beginning an excavation can result in fines of up to $1,000.
South Carolina 811, which is part of a national network, uses GIS mapping technology to get contractors the vicinity of the lines. Contractors then use their equipment to mark the lines.
"The detector will locate the lines that are underground because really you don't know," Asbill said." It looks like your sidewalk to you. It looks like your grass to you. But underneath there are gas lines and there are electric lines and there are cable lines."
Once the lines are located they are marked in yellow, making it safe to start digging, and most likely avoiding a disaster.
According to SCE&G, in 2011 there were 196 gas leaks caused by excavation. In 2012, the number rose to 263 leaks. In 2013, the number of gas leaks dropped a bit to 224.
Last year, the number went up to 249 gas leaks and nearly all of the incidents in Charleston were caused by contractors working on road construction, new construction, and other utility and homeowner projects.
The cost to the contractor for the damage varies depending on a number of factors which include the cost of labor, ssignificanceof damage and location.