August 10 – Ameren Illinois is reminding excavators and homeowners to follow the law and learn the location of underground utility lines before undertaking any digging projects.
With National 811 Day on Saturday, Ameren stresses the importance of knowing exactly where these utility lines are. Calling 811 in Illinois connects consumers to the Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators, also known as JULIE.
“The average person starting an outdoor project may not be aware of the electric and natural gas infrastructure beneath the ground,” said Eric Kozak, Ameren Illinois’ Vice President of Gas Operations.
“Proactively calling 811 can help prevent an accident by ensuring all buried facilities are identified and clearly marked before the first shovel breaks the earth.”
If JULIE determines there are utility lines in the area of a planned digging project, it will notify utility providers like Ameren. The company will then mark the locations of the lines; the digging can begin only after the marking process is finished.
After the lines are marked, digging within 18 inches on either side of a marked line must be done by hand.
If an underground utility source is struck during digging, stop the project and call Ameren (1-800-755-5000). If the strike produces a rotten egg smell, blowing dirt or bubbling water, the leak is likely natural gas and workers should clear the area immediately and call 911 before calling Ameren.
“Do not under any circumstances ignore a facility strike and continue working,” said Ameren Public Awareness Supervisor Gina Meehan Taylor. “Too often, people overlook damaged pipelines and continue to work or attempt to fix the damage on their own, but this only creates a more dangerous situation.”