Gas main damaged, causing major incident

An underground boring company doing some excavating went through a 50mm gas pipeline this morning in Reservoir, damaging the gas pipe and causing a major incident.

20 homes had to be evacuated and a 100-meter exclusion zone was set up around the area. Police blocked off all the roads in the area, and ambulance crews attended the scene to offer assistance. 13 MFB firefighters attended the site and used water to disperse the leaking gas from the area.

Below is the news report from Channel 7 news, as well as footage of the scene taken from the helicopter.


This Gas Pipe should never have been hit

As you can see by the plans below, which were obtained by doing a free Dial Before You Dig request, the gas main is clearly shown.

Plan of gas main from Dial Before you Dig
Plan of the gas main from Dial Before you Dig

They should have dug down and proved it by hand or used a hydro excavator to prove its actual location.

Then once they had seen it, they would have been able to work around it safely.

The pipe itself was only installed in the area in May 2002. So relatively speaking, it is not even that old, compared to some of the pipes we come across.

The irony, they did actually have a vacuum excavator onsite. Now, I don’t know if it was capable of doing non-destructive digging but, if it wasn’t and they didn’t want to dig down by hand themselves, then they should have called someone in to do it for them.

This gas main strike comes exactly a week after the incident in Chapel Street, Windsor, which also gained a lot of media coverage.

Oddly enough, however, although these two hits were the only ones to make it to the news, there were many more underground utilities damaged over the last week.

They just did not attract enough media attraction to get mentioned.

Why do underground utilities keep getting damaged

I often wonder why these damages keep happening.

It can’t be because they don’t know about the Dial Before You Dig service. DBYD has been around years and they spend millions of dollars on advertising, so everyone is aware of them and the fact that you need to get plans before you start working.

It can’t be that contractors aren’t getting plans back fast enough from the utility companies, as most of them have now automated their responses.

I did a video a few years ago now, showing me putting in a Dial Before You Dig request and then I filmed my inbox to show how long it took for each utility in the area to send the plans back. If you haven’t seen the video yet, then here it is

And keep in mind that video was done a few years ago—response times have got even better since then.

Who is at fault for this gas leak?

I didn’t go out to this job and I have no idea which company was doing the works, so I don’t know the exact details, apart from the fact that the 50mm gas main that was hit is clearly shown on the plans.

For all I know, they could have been digging down by hand and struck and damaged the pipe with the shovel. If this is the case, then OK—it was an accident. But the guy on the shovel must be pretty strong and might need to be retaught that when you’re digging down to expose a buried utility, you need to dig parallel to the service, not perpendicular to it.

But I’m pretty confident that it wasn’t damaged by someone digging by hand, as the excavator has dirt in the mud bucket.

The gas pipe might have been very shallow, or it may have been at a different offset to where the plans said it should be—which was 2.1 meters to the boundary. But again, if this is the case, then the contractor needs to re-read the paperwork that comes with the plans, as it states that the services in the area need to be potholed to be confirmed prior to doing any excavating in the area.

So what does that mean? Let’s say you’re digging a hole at 3.2 meters from the boundary and the plans say the gas is 2.1m and the water is 2.3m. Well, you still need to dig down and visually see both the gas and the water. If you dug down where they say they should be and you can’t find them, then that will mean the plan—which by the way is only a guide to where things are—is wrong and you need either to keep digging along to try and find them or contact the gas company to let them know you can’t find the main and feel their plan could be wrong.

And the last reason why this could have happened could be due to laziness, ignorance, or just stupidity. In 2016, none of these is a good enough excuse.

Am I wrong? Why do you think the gas pipe was hit?

But hey, I could be wrong. There could be another reason why this might have happened that I haven’t thought of. If you can think of a reason why this gas pipe was hit, then let us know—as I really would like to give the guys the benefit of the doubt. It’s just that I keep seeing too many of these, so it is leading me to believe it is the fault of the guys on sites.

Don’t let this happen to you

Like always, if you’re doing any digging and you don’t want to end up on the news that night, then give us a call and we’d be happy to come and help you out.

If you can’t catch us on the phone then you can always book online via our calendar in which you can see what days and times are free. The button is in the top right-hand corner of the website, or you can always just click this link here

Or if you are from interstate and need a locator, then my advice would be to jump on the DBYD locators website, which you’ll find here, and pick someone from that list. That way you’ll know they’ve passed a defined test of skill, set by Dial Before You Dig themselves, about what a professional locator should know and how they should operate on-site.

If you haven’t heard about the Dial Before You Dig certification and why you should use a locator that is certified, then have a look at this blog post I wrote about it, and also this blog post that I wrote about it when it first came out last year.

More to explorer