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National 811 Day efforts highlight the importance of contacting 811 before digging

NAPERVILLE, Ill. – Aug. 11, 2021 – Summertime is here, and for many homeowners, that means do-it-yourself home improvement projects like planting a tree or installing a fence or deck.

Aug. 11 is National 811 Day, and Nicor Gas reminds residents and professional contractors across the region that the date serves as an important cue to always contact 811, or JULIE, Illinois’ one-call center, before starting any outdoor digging project.

“Our number one priority is the safety of our employees, our customers and our communities,” said John O. Hudson III, president and CEO of Nicor Gas. “Striking an underground utility is a real safety risk, but it’s largely avoidable with a call to 811. A single call can protect families and help keep communities safe.”

The Common Ground Alliance, a national nonprofit organization working to protect underground utility lines, says damage to covered pipe and cable happens once every few minutes because of digging near unmarked utility lines. While large excavation projects often cause these mistakes, a homeowner’s simple mailbox installation or even a modest gardening project can lead to striking infrastructure that is right underground.

Whether a homeowner with a shovel or a professional excavator with an earthmover, Illinois state law requires a call to 811 at least three business days before starting any digging project. Nicor Gas has more than 34,000 miles of underground natural gas pipeline along with other utility companies’ underground communication cables, water and sewer lines. Knowing the location of underground utilities helps prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient service outages.

When homeowners and contractors contact JULIE, it notifies the appropriate utility companies of the intent to dig. Professional locators are then sent – for free – to the requested dig site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, paint or both.

Nicor Gas encourages homeowners and contractors to follow these safe digging guidelines and always dig with CARE:

  • Call or Click Before You Dig: Before starting any outdoor digging project, customers should dial 811 or visit JULIE at least three days in advance to request to have underground utility lines marked. Requests to have utility operators locate underground lines, including natural gas, electric, water, sewer, telephone and cable lines, can be made 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free.
  • Allow the Required Time for Marking: After contacting 811, wait for underground utility lines to be marked before digging. Locators will mark the approximate location of buried lines with color-coded spray paint, flags or stakes corresponding to the utility. The color used for natural gas is yellow.
  • Respect the Marks: Only use hand digging tools to carefully uncover the area around a utility line when you need to dig near location markers.
  • Excavate Carefully: Make sure the marks remain visible during the project. If the lines are damaged or removed, customers are encouraged to contact 811 to have lines remarked.

If a natural gas line is damaged accidentally or the distinctive rotten egg odor associated with natural gas is present, call 911 or the Nicor Gas 24-hour emergency phone line at 1-888-642-6748 from a safe location. Do not operate any machinery or equipment that might cause a spark or create an open flame.

Learn more about natural gas safety at nicorgas.com/safety/call-811-before-you-dig.html.

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Media Contact:

Jennifer Golz
331.222.8716
jgolz@southernco.com

About Nicor Gas

Nicor Gas is one of four natural gas distribution companies of Southern Company Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO). Nicor Gas serves more than 2.2 million customers in a service territory that encompasses most of the northern third of Illinois, excluding the city of Chicago. For more information, visit nicorgas.com.

About Southern Company Gas 

Southern Company Gas is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Company (NYSE:SO), America’s premier energy company. Southern Company Gas serves approximately 4.3 million natural gas utility customers through its regulated distribution companies in four states with approximately 666,000 retail customers through its companies that market natural gas. Other nonutility businesses include investments in interstate pipelines and ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities. For more information, visit southerncompanygas.com.