Shell marks National 811 Day by dedicating tank inscribed with 811 logo Shell Pipeline Company LP−Colex Facility dedicated Tank Number TP-2054 and presented a plaque to Common Ground Alliance (CGA) on National 811 Day (Aug. 11) to recognize the organization’s efforts in promoting damage prevention and safe-digging practices. CGA provides strategic direction and public education to protect underground utility lines and the safety of people who dig near them. National 811 Day reminds people to dial 811before they dig to learn what’s below the ground. One call to the national number designated by the Federal Communications Commission, and the 811 call center will arrange to send a professional locator to a property to mark the location of underground utilities and infrastructure. The service is free. Shell Pipeline’s leadership in damage prevention Shell Pipeline President Mary Mujica, Gulf of Mexico Regional Operations Manager Greg Smith, and Operations Manager Gerald Yandel hosted approximately 50 city, state, law enforcement, and emergency response officials who attended the dedication ceremony, luncheon and tank viewing. Also sharing in the dedication were Shell Pipeline right-a-way technicians who respond to requests from the local 811 call center. The Colex Facility fields some 45,000 calls a year—more calls than any other Shell Pipeline location—about Shell’s underground assets in the greater Houston area. “If you dig and you don’t know what’s below, you’re going to hit something. What’s great here is we have a team of folks reaching out collectively because we have a common goal. We’re proud to be an active member and leader in the focus around damage prevention, and we have taken the opportunity to utilize one of our tanks to get the message out there,” Mujica said. Each year more than 170,000 underground utility lines are unintentionally damaged nationwide, and more than one-third of the incidents occur because people fail to call before digging. Shell painted one of its storage tanks just off Highway 225 with a prominent 811 Call Before You Dig logo to remind the public to call the number before starting any excavation project—small or large, shallow or deep. “By taking a leadership role, Shell is emphasizing how important 811 is and how critical it is in protecting our assets and the public,” Smith said. “We hope that the tank dedication raised awareness among public officials so they spread 811 throughout their organizations and they have a better understanding of what Shell and Colex do.” The role of CGA According to CGA President Bob Kipp, the non-profit launched in 1998 following several incidents. Experts representing oil, gas, gas distribution, telecommunications, road construction, utilities and railroads, along with state government leaders and firefighters, collaborated on a set of best practices relating to damage prevention. By the end of the year, they had developed the Common Ground Study of best practices, which are being followed across the United States. In some states the practices are becoming law. From 2004 to the present, the organization has reduced utility damages from 450,000 to 170,000. “We’ve cut damages by sixty-some percent across the country,” Kipp said. “A lot of it in the last two years has been recession-based, but if you look at the numbers, they have been on a downward slope ever since we started.” In addition to the Aug. 11 tank dedication, Shell Pipeline hosts numerous events throughout the year to promote the national number, including Shell Eco Marathon, Shell Houston Open and the New Orleans Jazz Fest. Acknowledging Shell’s role in helping CGA gain exposure, Kipp said, “Shell has been one of the big supporters. This year they gave us the logo on the Harvick car at Talladega (2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup).” ‘811 so we don’t have to call 911’ Texas State Representative Ken Legler was among several government officials celebrating National 811 Day at Shell Pipeline. “811 will help solve the problem so we don’t have to call 911. Safety is first, and like Shell and many of the industries I represent, that is the first concern. I want to make sure that everybody in my district understands that safety comes first. I appreciate what industry does to get the word out. I think a lot of people don’t realize how much money they spend and what the employees do to make it safe for constituents in my district,” he commented. Citing the importance of protecting pipelines, Pasadena Mayor Johnny Isbell said, “We have hundreds of pipelines running through our city. It’s extremely important that our city and residents be aware of the problems with damaging a pipeline. It could be disastrous for our city, as we’ve seen in other cities where pipelines have exploded, so it’s really critical that all of our people know about 811.” Gweneyette Broussard, senior legislative and regulatory affairs representative for Shell Pipeline, believes the event effectively communicated Shell’s commitment to safe operations and public safety both externally and internally. “At the dedication ceremony we had the leaders of the community who can assist us in getting out the message about calling 811. It was a wonderful turnout and celebration for a very important and special day,” she said. Shell employees are encouraged to act as ambassadors by informing their families, friends and colleagues about calling 811. In Mary Mujica’s e-mail about National 811 Day, she urged Shell Pipeline employees to spread the word by using the embedded links to forward the email to friends and to post it on their preferred social networks. The tie-in with social media served to reinforce the 811 message and Shell’s partnership with CGA.