RICHMOND — Thursday, August 11 is National 811 Day,
a day to remind all homeowners and professional excavators of the importance of
calling 811 before any digging or demolishing project. Recent accidents involving
damage to underground utility lines that have occurred around the nation highlight
the importance of preventing damage to Virginia’s underground utility infrastructure.
The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is responsible for administering Virginia’s
Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act. SCC Utility and Railroad Safety Division
Director Massoud Tahamtani says, “While August 11 is a good day to raise the awareness
level for calling 811, preventing damage to underground utility lines is a 24-hour,
Underground utility lines provide vital services such as natural gas, petroleum
products, electricity, communications, water supply, and sewage removal. Communications
facilities in particular provide services that connect Virginians with 911 dispatchers
in times of emergency and keep the public abreast of adverse weather and national
According to Tahamtani, “When an underground utility line is damaged, there can
be far-reaching consequences. They include serious personal injury, environmental
damage, economic loss, and disruption of vital utility services upon which we depend
every day.” He added, “Damaging an underground utility line usually leads to liability
claims and civil penalties against the responsible party.”
A simple call to 811 is answered by Miss Utility of Virginia, the state’s one-call
notification center. Center staff will ask important information about the planned
work and then notify the member utility operators. Utility operators send locators
to the project area in the time allowed by law to mark the underground utility lines
by means of paint or flags. There is no cost for this service. Once marked, hand
digging is required within 24 inches of these marks.
Miss Utility of Virginia operates Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding
state and national holidays. Emergency notification service is available 365 days
a year, 24 hours a day.
“Calling Miss Utility at 811 and remembering to avoid damage to underground utility
lines is captured in Virginia’s C.A.R.E. message,” said Tahamtani. C.A.R.E. means:
Call Miss Utility at 811 before you dig.
Allow the required time for marking.
Respect and protect the marks.
To learn more about “Digging with C.A.R.E.” and Virginia’s damage prevention program,
contact the SCC’s Division of Utility and Railroad Safety at (804) 371-9980; or
visit the division’s website at: http://www.scc.virginia.gov/urs/mutility/index.aspx