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Pipeline strikes can be deadly. Tractors and implements are powerful and can slice deep into soil. Combine this power with the fact that each year soil is lost to erosion, effectively reducing the depth of cover over the pipeline. Anyone doing work around a pipeline should call in a locate before excavating. It is a free service, and it is the best way to establish the location of a pipeline. Not doing so could cause severe injury, loss of equipment and death.

Midwestern Contractors (MWC) prides themselves on their ability to respond to emergency situations in a radius of eight hours from Elburn, Illinois. Recently a farmer, excavating for an irrigation ditch failed to call in locates. During excavation, a 30” natural gas line was struck.

The strike was reported, and our project manager received a call requesting emergency services to expose the line, inspect and repair the damage. The following is the timeline for that response.


12:15 pm - Received inquiry on Friday asking about crew availability & in-service welders.

1:15pm – Customer approves crew and mobilization.

2:15 pm - Superintendent on-site for emergency locate.

4:15 pm - crew and equipment on-site.

5:00 pm – Excavation begins on 30” pipe. Pipe exposed 40” below grade.

9:00 pm - Pipe was excavated, blasted, and inspected, at which point it was determined to be a recoat.

7:30 am- Saturday - Pipe was recoated and backfilled.

12:00 noon - Demobilize. Equipment moved out on Monday.

Total time on-site - 1.5 days.

One phone call requesting a locate for the proposed irrigation ditch would have established the location of the pipeline and this emergency would have been avoided. MWC can respond quickly when our customers need help, but it is better for all concerned to avoid pipeline strikes. We hope that in the future everyone calls in locates before excavation begins.

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