For Release: 04/05/2011

April is "Safe Digging" Month

MERC Reminder: CALL 811 BEFORE YOU DIG

Rosemount, MN - Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation reminds customers that accidental contact from digging near underground utility services (natural gas pipelines, electric power lines, water lines and communication lines) can be extremely dangerous and could cause personal injury and disrupt vital services to entire neighborhoods.

Contractors working on a job site and homeowners working in the yard must CALL 811 BEFORE YOU DIG. There is a pre-established system in place that will send a locator technician to where the digging will take place as soon as possible, usually within two working days from when the request was received. There is no charge for the service and the call is toll free.

"It's not just for those who are using power digging equipment," said Ann Carlon, Senior External Relations Manager. "We want anyone and everyone who is digging in their yard from a simple home project of planting a tree, installing a sprinkler system, to installing fence posts, to call the hotline first. Digging can be dangerous if you don't check before you start."

For excavation contractors, Minnesota Energy and Diggers Hotline hold around 25 annual "safe digging" meetings and invite anyone associated with commercial digging to attend. Nationwide, there are more than 200,000 unintentional hits on underground facilities annually. Minnesota Energy has about 4,500 miles of distribution and transmission pipeline in the state.

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