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Call Before You Dig, Urges Delmarva Power:And then, Dig Carefully

Monday, April 17, 2006

Warmer weather means the beginning of a new construction season. And, in turn, more digging usually means an increase in the number of accidentally hit natural gas lines. What you don’t see underground can hurt you.

“Whether you’re a weekend warrior putting in a fence or planting a tree, or a contractor doing major construction it’s vital that you call Miss Utility, a free utility locating service, at least 2 days in advance,” says Charles Dickerson, Delmarva Power’s Vice President, Gas Delivery.

“That phone call will help you avoid fines and angry neighbors if you accidentally hit a line and cut off their gas service. But, more importantly, knowing where you can dig safely will avoid an accident that could result in injury or in death,” Dickerson adds.

There are some 117 thousand homes and businesses in New Castle County which rely on natural gas service. In just the last several days, contractors have hit natural gas lines disrupting service to two separate neighborhoods and to a street along Wilmington ’s River Walk.

When a natural gas line is hit, Delmarva Power must shut down service to all customers served by that line. Once repairs are safely made, the crew must then restore each customer individually in a time-consuming process. If the call to Miss Utility is not made before digging, or if it was made and the markings ignored, those responsible could be fined and be liable for damages to underground facilities and other property.

By law anyone, including home owners and excavators, planning to dig or alter the surface of the ground must call Miss Utility at 1-800-375-7117. That phone call must be made even if you intend to just dig a couple of inches.

“Safe digging is everyone’s responsibility,” says Dickerson.

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Delmarva Power, a public utility owned by Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POM), provides safe, reliable and affordable regulated electric and natural gas delivery services to more than 500,000 customers in Delaware, Maryland , and Virginia .