Nanaimo firefighters stand by as workers repair a natural gas line break. Fortis B.C. saw an upswing in damage to its gas lines on the Island in January and is reminding homeowners and construction contractors to contact B.C. 1 Call for information about underground utility infrastructure before digging. (News Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo firefighters stand by as workers repair a natural gas line break. Fortis B.C. saw an upswing in damage to its gas lines on the Island in January and is reminding homeowners and construction contractors to contact B.C. 1 Call for information about underground utility infrastructure before digging. (News Bulletin file photo)

Fortis B.C. sees upswing in underground gas line damage incidents in Nanaimo

Fortis B.C. asks contractors and homeowners to call for underground utility maps before putting shovels in the ground

Fortis hopes anyone in Nanaimo planning to dig will call for information first about where not to dig.

The natural gas supplier reported five incidents of damage in the city in January, compared to no such incidents in January 2020.

“Although five may not sound like many, every gas line damage has the potential to cause disruptions to service, evacuations, traffic disruptions, all which can be prevented,” said Lauren Lea, Fortis B.C. spokesperson, in an e-mail.

One gas line break caused by construction work on Brechin Road on Feb. 2 took a turn when a Fortis service truck was stolen from the work site and was followed by police to Campbell River.

The rise in natural gas infrastructure incidents isn’t peculiar to Nanaimo.

“Along with the damages to our system in Nanaimo, we are seeing an increase in natural gas line damages across Vancouver Island,” Lea said, adding that there was damage to gas lines 59 times on the Island between October and January, compared to 35 times during the same months the previous year.

The majority of incidents are from third-party contractors working in areas where natural gas infrastructure is installed. Fortis damage prevention investigators travel to incident locations to investigate causes and are finding that in most cases people responsible for the damage did not contact Fortis B.C. to request a B.C. 1 Call ticket, which provides homeowners and contractors with the information they need to dig safely on their property. A B.C. 1 Call request triggers notifications to all member companies in the system that have buried utilities on the property and will provide the requester with location information, including maps, within three business days. The information provided is free and can be requested online at http://bc1c.ca or by calling 1-800-474-6886 several days in advance of planned work.

“As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s an important reminder to follow safe digging practices,” Lea said. “When these damages occur, our crews are ready to respond to these emergencies and complete the necessary repairs, but to help keep everyone safe it’s best to prevent these damages from happening in the first place.”

For more information, visit https://www.bc1c.ca/dont-dig-up-trouble/.



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