Before you pick up a shovel, remember to pick up your phone. The Railroad Commission of Texas (TRRC) damage prevention rules require anyone planning to dig deeper than 16 inches to call 811 before digging to prevent damage to underground pipelines. This call prompts pipeline operators to mark their underground natural gas or hazardous liquid pipelines.
House Bill 1818, the Commission’s Sunset Bill passed by the 85th Legislature last year, gives TRRC authority over damage incidents on interstate pipelines that cross state boundaries. Previously, the Commission’s damage prevention authority was limited to intrastate pipelines that begin and end in Texas.
Effective February 12, 2018, excavators are required to notify the pipeline operator by calling the 811 notification center as soon as possible about any damage incidents, but no later than one hour after an incident. Excavators will also be required to call 911 if any natural gas or other product is released when an underground pipeline is struck. The amendments extend the deadline for pipeline operators and excavators to file a damage report with the Commission from the current 10 days to 30 days.
More information on these new rule requirements can be found here, under “Chapter 18. Underground Pipeline Damage Prevention.”