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2014-05-23 at 13:20

Safe digging

By Matt Vis,
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THUNDER BAY -- Knocking out power isn’t the biggest risk to digging in areas with buried utility lines.

Rather, Thunder Bay Hydro officials say hitting an active line has the potential to be fatal.

The utility company is launching a campaign to encourage residents to contact utility companies to determine locations of underground lines before putting shovels in the ground.

“If you hit underground power lines you can risk severe injury and even death,” Eileen Dias, Thunder Bay Hydro communications and events coordinator said. “Any kind of utility strike can injure you and there can be a real inconvenience to the people living around you.”

Officials with Thunder Bay Hydro are visiting six local hardware stores on Friday, starting at Petersen’s Building Supplies on John Street Road, to spread educational information about how to locate lines.

It’s not just major jobs such as decks or pools that require underground locates.

Dias said seemingly minor jobs such as tree planting or digging for fence posts can be hazardous if people are not aware of what kind of infrastructure is below ground.

Utility lines generally run one metre below the surface, but the annual freezing and thawing cycles can play a role in the ground shifting, making lines more accessible even for minor projects.

While Dias said the occurrence of severe incidents from striking power lines are rare, new homeowners are the most likely to run into trouble.

They need to contact utilities to become familiar with where lines run under their new property.

“There are always people who are new to home ownership and may not understand their yards may be filled with underground utilities,” Dias said.

Thunder Bay Hydro has adopted the Ontario One Call system so residents can receive information for utilities, including electricity, gas, telephone and water, with a single phone call.


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