Most West Virginians are aware that it is a good idea to "call before you dig" in order to avoid problems with underground utility lines. The same goes for warnings to avoid coming in contact with overhead power lines.
Apparently some people in the gas drilling and pipeline businesses either never heard of such rules - or just don't care.
Some crews installing pipelines to transport gas from wells dotting Marshall County are not following proper procedures regarding water lines, a Marshall County Public Service District 4 official told our reporter. And a few workers taking heavy equipment to drilling sites reportedly are not calling utility companies when they encounter power lines too low for trucks to pass. Instead, they are using whatever is available - tree branches in some cases - to lift lines temporarily out of the way.
In addition to the possibility that may cause power outages, the practice of moving high-voltage lines without electric company equipment and expertise is dangerous.
PSD 4 General Manager George Lagos told the News-Register some pipeline crews do not notify his agency as required by law when their work intersects with water lines. Sometimes, pipeliners temporarily move water lines, exposing them to sunlight in a practice that can cause harmful bacteria to grow inside the pipes.
"I want to see these people do this in an orderly fashion," Lagos said of gas pipeline crews. He added PSD officials are "at wits' end to come up with a solution to the problem ..."
Here's one: If laws regarding existing utility lines, whether they carry water underground or power above it, are broken, hold those responsible liable for the violations.
It is understandable crews involved in drilling gas wells and laying pipelines want to get the jobs done as quickly and efficiently as possible. But rules on how other utility property is to be treated exist for very good reasons. Area residents have a right to insist that if we are going to follow the rules, our visitors from the gas industry must, too.