State Senate Bill 1068 requires Utilities and Contractors to put Safety First in South Carolina

Underground utilities may not sound like an exciting issue - until you've hit one, costing money, possibly causing service outages, and if you're not lucky, blowing up a large area.

That's what could easily happen with the state's existing laws, which were enacted in 1978 - and have not been updated since.

The "Call Before You Dig" 811 system is a nice idea, but it won't protect you because, unlike most states in the country, calling that service does NOT mean utilities will be notified.  That means if you call, they may not mark, and if they fail to respond, or mark improperly or inaccurately, there is NOBODY under S.C. law who can hold them accountable.

How does THAT make you feel?

These photos of a gas line which exploded on a farm near Appomattox give a vivid examples of what can happen when underground utilities are damaged. Because of bad information given to my company, a similar incident almost occured in front of Wal-Mart in Summerville at 2pm one afternoon.

There are lots of reasons these things can happen, and the fault can lie with contractors, utilities, locator firms or others. When something happens and gas lines blow up, 911 phone calls can't get through, or the lights go out, fixing the blame afterwards is little consolation, but many of the standards which are supposed to prevent these things, or ensure accountability for problems which do occur, don't exist in South Carolina.

Senate Bill 1068 provides a number of long-overdue remedies to bring our laws up to national standards, before threatened federal intervention takes place to force our state to take action - or before a similar disaster occurs here, as it has in a number of states.

This act would amend existing laws to do the adopt the following practices which are law in most states and have been adopted unanimously as Best Practices by the national Common Ground Alliance:

  • Require all utilities be members of the One-Call center, and require "positive response" where utilities either respond in person or notify you it is clear to dig.

  • Set standards for how underground lines are to be marked, and require those marking undergo training to meet national standards, as established by the National Utility Locating Contractors Assocation.

  • Require all underground lines being placed after 2011 be locatable (many old lines are not, by more modern ones are).

  • Require anyone who has damaged a line carrying flammable gas or liquids to immediately notify emergency service agencies.

  • Create an oversight board to assess violatons and issue penalties, comprised of represenatives from a broad range of stakeholder groups, including utilties and construction companies.

  • Allow for the recovery of damages when violations of this law occurs.
Talk with your Senator and encourage them to get on board with this bill. Let's put Safety First in South Carolina.

1 Response to "State Senate Bill 1068 requires Utilities and Contractors to put Safety First in South Carolina"

  1. Anonymous 21/1/10 09:58
    Are they absolved of liabilities under the existing statues? I can think of a few personal injury shysters that ought to be diggin into that gold mine, reckon I can draw a finder's fee?

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