Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Call before digging saves time, trouble and costly repairs


Craig Moore with MLGW's Gas Engineering gives safety tips to customers in Lowe's during last year's Gas Safety Awareness Day. 

Years ago early in his construction career, Joe L. Williams and another worker dug a hole while planting a 10-foot oak tree in a new Germantown subdivision.
“We thought we were being careful but we cut into a gas line with a shovel,” Williams said. “It hissed like a snake. The other guy I was with knew what to do. He reached in like John Wayne with a pair of pliers and crimped the line. This was before cell phones so I ran back to the office and called MLGW.”
Williams who runs Joe Williams Construction in Memphis said the moment taught him a lesson: “I don’t care if it’s a flower bed or something minor, I always call before I dig.”
While the consequences for Williams luckily weren’t life-threatening, it can be.
To get the word out, MLGW is teaming up Friday (March 27) with local Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores to promote natural gas safety awareness from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The “Call 811 Before You Dig” day comes just in time for April’s celebration of National Safe Digging Month.
            Last year, 233 gas lines in Shelby County ruptured from damage caused by digging. Another 82 gas meters were struck above ground with lawnmowers and other equipment. Such digs – either by folks not calling to find where their utility and cable lines are buried or from contractors who called but hit lines anyway – resulted in rotten egg-like fumes spewing into neighborhoods, business districts and rural areas.
Each year hundreds of homeowners, contractors and developers fail to call before they dig resulting in thousands of dollars in damages to busted gas lines.
Nationally, the Common Ground Alliance’s 2013 Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) pinpointed that one in four incidents resulted from someone failing to notify local authorities before digging. Homeowners or contractors using the wrong tools like a backhoe instead of a shovel caused about half of the reported DIRT cases.
“We have 181 miles of gas transmission lines and 4,800 miles of smaller distribution lines going to homes and businesses. The problem with this kind of leak is, it’s preventable,” said Clift Phillips, lead gas system integrity engineer at Memphis Light Gas and Water.
While it rarely happens, a single spark from a lit cigarette, a backhoe hitting concrete or pavement or even the buildup of static electricity at the rupture point could set off a deadly explosion.
            Phillips explained why: “Gas lines can have up to 250 pounds of pressure. A car tire has 30 to 40 pounds of pressure.”
            When installed, gas lines are required to be at least a foot underground. But over time with erosion and landscaping, the lines could be closer to the surface.
Last year, MLGW general foreman for facilities location Vic Sawyer and 15 of his workers spray-painted almost 64,000 areas where gas and other utility lines were buried from homeowners and contractors who called 811 before digging. The program which has been in existence since 1983 provides the location. Unfortunately locaters are unable to ascertain the specific depth the lines are buried.
            So far, Sawyer and his crew have answered 7,318 calls this year for the free utility location service. “If you are piercing the earth, it’s time to call,” Sawyer urged. “If you are putting in a new flower bed, an irrigation system, a basketball goal or repairing your fence, you need to call us.”
Even when it is marked, diggers still run into trouble at times. “We were putting in a driveway on Shady Hall just off Mendenhall and hit a gas line,” said contractor James Shepherd. “It cost us $1,500 to fix it.”
While Shepherd thinks the 811 program is good, even if an area is marked, he added, “They don’t know how deep it is.”
            For Williams’ part, he can’t understand why more contractors and homeowners fail to use the free service. “I’ve driven by other construction sites when they have hit stuff and you just shake your head,” said Williams. “Why didn’t you call?”

      Who ya gonna call?
  • Call 811 at least three business days before you or a contractor starts digging so that underground lines can be marked for free
  • Call 911 or MLGW’s emergency line 901-528-4465 –  if you smell rotten egg-like fumes, hear a hissing sound or see dirt blowing from a recently dug hole
  • Leave the area on foot before using cell phones, flashlights or other electric or battery-operated devices 
Gas lines damaged in 2014

Shelby County homeowners or contractors damaged over 300 gas lines from either digging or a lawnmower or other equipment hitting gas meters. Here is where those potentially deadly ruptures happened:

Memphis: 195                                          Collierville: 17           
Germantown: 33                                      Arlington: 12
Shelby County: 27                                    Lakeland: 7
Bartlett: 21                                               Millington: 3

Monday, March 23, 2015

MLGW Promotes Gas Safety Awareness March 27

Local Lowe’s Stores Team with MLGW for Safety Awareness Campaign

MLGW and Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores in Shelby County are teaming up to promote natural gas safety awareness and “Call 811 Before You Dig” on Friday, March 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The gas safety day is in preparation for April which is National Safe Digging Month and also observed in Tennessee.

On MLGW’s Natural Gas Safety Awareness Day, March 27, the Division’s Gas Engineering employees will staff display tables at several Lowe’s locations to provide information and brochures on natural gas safety, which is especially relevant in the springtime. That’s the season when many homeowners and contractors engage in digging, excavating, landscaping and gardening, as well as home and business construction projects. Natural gas safety is very important in light of recent natural gas explosions like the house blown apart in New Jersey in February.

There will also be information available to Lowe’s visitors about Tennessee One Call, the national 811 safe digging hotline and the “Call 811 Before You Dig” law.

There will be information available on:

• Damage prevention awareness
• Leak recognition and response
• Awareness of hazards and prevention measures
• Pipeline purpose and reliability
• One-call requirements for transmission pipelines

Below is a list of participating Lowe’s locations:

• 430 Germantown Parkway, Cordova, TN
• 585 N. Perkins Road, Memphis, TN
• 8490 Highway 51 North, Millington, TN
• 8300 Highway 64, Bartlett, TN
• 425 New Byhalia Road, Collierville, TN
• 7895 Winchester Road, Memphis, TN

For more information about Tennessee One Call, visit http://www.tennessee811.com/. More natural gas safety information can be found on MLGW’s website at www.mlgw.com.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Community Conservation Day Giveaways bring smiles to customers

MLGW Energy Technicians Mike Hamrick and Vidale Cothran handed out about 150 boxes with energy-saving goodies like compact fluorescent light bulbs, low-flow faucet aerators, credit card-sized water temperature testers and electrical outlet socket gaskets at the Peggy Prater-Harvey Community Office, 2935 Lamar on March 19. Several customers said they appreciated the Conservation Day giveaways.


“I think it’s cool,” said Vincent Brown.


After seeing the energy-saving light bulbs, Carla Jeffries said, “I’ve got a couple of them in my home. I’ve seen the difference as far as not having to replace the bulbs every two or three months.”


(Left to Right) Clark Postell, Tyrisha Smith and George Miller. Clark Postell couldn’t believe the energy-saving boxes were free. “That’s nice,” said George Miller. Added Tyrisha Smith, “This means less on our light bill.”


“I think it’s marvelous,” said Elmo Randolph Jr. “Just what I needed – these light bulbs.”


“Anything helps,” said William Thomas.


“My wife said get a box,” Eric Owens said on Conservation Day as MLGW Energy Tech Vidale Cothran helps him and Energy Tech Mike Hamrick looks on. After seeing the light bulbs, Owens added, “These are the ones I use.” 


“This is wonderful. We always need light bulbs. This is in the spirit of giving,” said Alice Hurt. Moments after leaving the office, Hurt returned: “I forgot to tell you. It saves energy and finances.”

Surplus Vehicle and Equipment Auction

The 2015 MLGW Surplus Vehicle and Equipment Auction will be held on Saturday, March 28, 2015 at the South Service Center, 3020 Gill Rd., beginning at 10 a.m. For more details, contact Christin Webb, Purchasing at cwebb@mlgw.org or visit www.mlgw.com/publicauction.  


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

MLGW Road Work Impacts Traffic on Ridgeway

Our crews will reduce the northbound lanes of Ridgeway, near Interstate 385, to one lane for the remainder of today and Thursday as crews work to repair damage from a water main break that occurred this morning.

Depending on the weather, road work is expected to be completed on Thursday.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March 16-21 is Fix a Leak Week

This week, we're chasing down leaks! Did you know that household leaks can waste more than one trillion gallons of water annually nationwide? Did you know that amount could double when water leaks go unreported at work? March 16-21 is the national WaterSense Fix a Leak Week. Help save water resources at home and work by chasing down leaks in restrooms, kitchens, and at outdoor faucets. The attached Fix a Leak Week tip sheet will help you save money and our valuable resource - water.

Your wallet and MLGW will thank you for saving resources.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Inclement Weather Creates Service Order Backlog

Due to inclement weather, MLGW has a backlog of  service orders to be completed. 

If you have requested new service, transfer of service or disconnection of service, then we will be working those requests on Saturday, March 7, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.  

 If you would like to reschedule or cancel your request, please call 544-6549. 
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