8-1-1 before you dig!
Wanda English Burnett
The message was simple. Calling three numbers, 8-1-1 before you
dig, can save lives and its the law.
Mark Courtney with Paradigm Liaison Services, LLC, a company that
specializes in pipeline emergency response and damage prevention
training, presented a wealth of information at a training held
February 4 at St. Leon.
But, the most simplistic training that encompasses everything
taught is that before anyone moves any earth - digging for any
reason, you must always call 811 first.
One thing we will learn here tonight is always, always call
before we dig, Courtney stressed. Sure enough when all the
questions were answered via an electronic device - the question
of what number to call before digging received 100% knowing the
A diverse group gathered at the American Legion at St. Leon to
learn more about pipeline safety. Some local agencies participating
in the training included the Versailles, Osgood, and Sunman police
departments; Ripley County Emergency Management Agency; Sunman,
Batesville, Morris, and Oldenburg fire departments, among many
While the training was primarily targeted to the agencies represented,
the instructor made it clear, calling before moving earth is everyones
Courtney, a 26-year law enforcement veteran from Marion County,
stressed the safety factor of finding out where pipelines are
buried. He noted there are millions of miles of pipelines criss-crossing
the nation. While most are underground and are the safest way
to transport commodities such as petroleum, natural gas, and propane,
the danger comes when people compromise the pipelines by disturbing
Some indicators that a pipeline has erupted were given.
The visual signs could be liquid on the ground in the area of
a pipeline warning marker. There could be a rainbow sheen on water,
dead vegetation in an otherwise green area, dirt blowing in the
air, a white vapor cloud, mud or water bubbling up or a frozen
area on the ground.
You might detect an odor such as gas or oil. Remember though that
natural gas is colorless and odorless unless Mercaptan has been
added, which means you will smell a rotten egg odor.
If a pipeline has a release, you might hear a hissing or roaring
Other signs could be your eyes, nose or throat may burn or you
may experience nausea if youre in an affected area.
Call authorities immediately. Do not attempt to check out anything
on your own - your life depends on it.
Courtney pointed out that intentionally damaging or removing a
warning marker is a federal violation.
Every day over 20 million barrels of liquid products are transported
in our country. Over 21 trillion cubic feet of natural gas flows
each year. Armed with this knowledge, Courtney encouraged everyone
to do their part to make sure this quiet flow of vital product
remains a safe process.
Call before you dig, wait the required amount of time, respect
the markings a trained technician will place at no cost to you,
then dig with care.
The law requires that if anyone is involved in the demolition
of a pipeline facility and becomes aware of damage to the pipeline,
they must immediately report the damage to authorities.
Courtney has an impressive resume including membership to the
International Law Enforcements Educators and Trainers Association,
co-founding an organization to provide law enforcement style training
to local security companies, instructing numerous law enforcement
trainings, and is certified as a trainer in the National Association
of State Fire Marshals Pipeline Emergencies course.
He is also a member of the Indiana Chapter of InfraGard, an FBI
sponsored organization dedicated to protecting the US infrastructure
which includes the pipeline and energy industries.
Courtney taught the 2010 Pipeline Emergency Response & Damage
Prevention Training program with expertise, making sure all attendees
knew the perils of what can happen when the flow through pipelines
He also impressed the law when it comes to pipelines and the number
to always, always call before digging is 811. You
can also call 1-800-382-5544.
Whether working on a large construction project or putting up
a fence, planting a garden or tree- always call - pipelines are
ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTO
Pictured from left are Versailles
Deputy Marshal Lee Mathews, Reserve Deputy Marshal David
Bruns, Sunman Police Department, and Sunman Town Marshal
Bill Dramann. Others attending the pipeline seminar included
both the Osgood and Versailles town marshals, Joe Mann,
and John Hegge and officers from their departments as well
as representatives from many local fire departments and
Ripley County Emergency Management Agency.