Sullivan County Emergency Management Director Dennis Goldsmith is sharing information to educate the public about underground pipelines.
Accidentally damaging a pipeline can be a life or death experience. It can seriously contaminate your land. And it can become very expensive, into the millions of dollars. In Missouri, Goldsmith said anyone who damages a pipeline, or any other underground utility line, is responsible for the costs of repair and environmental cleanup.
Sullivan County is crisscrossed with underground pipelines carrying refined petroleum products. So too are our neighboring counties. These highly flammable products are pushed through the pipes by high pressuresâ€”up to 14-hundred psi.
A small rupture can cause a huge plume of fine spray which becomes an explosive when mixed with air.
Some of the pipelines may be 50 or more years old. When they were originally installed, they were placed between 36 and 48-inches deep. Over the years, with freezing, thawing, erosion, and surface usage, Goldsmith advises that many of these lines may now be much closer to the surface.
He noted soils in our area do not naturally drain well. To improve drainage, many agricultural operators are digging into their land to create terraces and install drain tiles. This activity, according to Goldsmith can put the excavator at risk of striking an underground pipeline.
Missouri has a statewide â€śone-callâ€ť service which will come to your digging site and map out all the local underground utilities, including pipelines, free of charge.
The Missouri One Call System can be reached by telephone at 1-800-344-7483 or just 811. Locate requests may also be made over the internet through the Missouri One Call website: www.mo1call.com.