Trench Takes Wrong Turn, Homeowner Halts Work

By Virginia Limmiatis

If ever you think you are losing an impossible battle, remember your presence and discussions with customers can be a game changer. One such example, is the hard work and partnership of the damage prevention team to educate the public to call 8-1-1 before you dig.

National Grid customer, Dorothy Gigliotti, knew what to do when a project at her Utica home took a wrong turn. She stopped a project in its tracks and averted a potential catastrophe.

“This is a great example of educating our customers on pipeline safety and the importance of calling 8-1-1 before you dig,” said John Fiume, National Grid manager of New York Damage Prevention.

Here’s what happened: Dorothy’s son hired a landscaping company to install a drainage system in his mom’s yard. A typical, routine job, right? Not in this case. “The contractor didn’t discuss the work with me,” she explained. “Crews started the work without my knowledge.”

Dorothy was away from her home running errands on the morning the work began, when she arrived at the house only to discover crews digging. The trench stretched from the back of her property to the front yard.

The ditch crossed a 16-inch coated steel, high-pressure transmission gas pipeline in a right-of-way on the property. No markings were visible.

Aware of the hazards and the “big-time gas” running through her yard, Dorothy knew the digging should not continue. “I made them stop.” She trusted her instincts and called 8-1-1.

Pictured (left to right): Jack Baker, watch guard lead, RECONN Utility Solutions; Dorothy Gigliotti, homeowner; and Mike Crever, damage prevention advisor, RECONN Utility Solutions

The call triggered a locator to go to her home, and while he was unable to mark the area (the call was “anonymous”), he acted quickly and requested assistance.

National Grid and RECONN Utility Solutions worked together to confirm that no damage occurred to the pipeline and ensure the integrity of the system.

Sometime later, the landscaping contractor called 8-1-1 to request a mark out and completed the drainage system installation, safely and lawfully, outside the easement and away from the high-pressure gas line.

For doing the right thing and calling 8-1-1, RECONN presented Dorothy with a company t-shirt, flowers and a gift card for a local grocery store.

“Because Dorothy was proactive, she potentially prevented a major, major issue,” said Patrick Milks, senior project manager, RECONN Utility Solutions.