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Cross Bores

Do you know how to keep yourself and your community safe when clearing a clogged sewer line?

Many utility lines are installed using “trenchless” technology, also known as “directional boring,” because it avoids disrupting landscaping, sidewalks and streets. On rare occasions, a natural gas line installed using trenchless technology can intersect accidentally with an existing sewer line, creating what’s called a “cross bore.” While a natural gas cross bore is not hazardous immediately, cleaning sewers with mechanical devices can damage intersecting natural gas lines, releasing natural gas and causing unsafe conditions.  Special attention is required when cleaning clogged sewer lines if natural gas lines are present.

Before you (or your plumber) start any sewer work, think ACT. When you ACT, you do your part to keep yourself and your community safe. You can prevent emergencies by calling 811 before clearing a clog.

Sewer safety is an easy ACT

Assume all sewer obstructions outside the building will involve a cross bore.

Call 811 before work is started on any sewer pipe to have all utility lines on your property identified and marked. It’s free, and it’s the law. Please note: If the property has a private rather than public sewer line, the private utility needs to be contacted to mark the lines and help resolve the issue.

Take every safety precaution after lines are marked. Make sure an in-line or CCTV camera is used to assess the blockage. Then use minimally invasive tools to clear the clog. Ensure extreme caution is exercised any time power tools are used to clear a sewer line.

If you suspect a cross bore is present, stop work immediately and call Atlanta Gas Light at 877.427.4321 to report a gas emergency. Be sure to let the customer service representative know that you have discovered a cross bore. Atlanta Gas Light will dispatch resources to remove the cross bore safely.

Contact our Natural Gas Advantage Dealers to find a qualified professional near you that can perform this work safely. Click here or contact our Energy Connections Center at 800.599.3770.

Know the signs of a natural gas leak: a rotten egg or skunk-like odor or a hissing or bubbling sound in standing water. Be aware that some individuals may not be able to detect the smell of the natural gas odorant because they have a diminished sense of smell, because the scent is being masked by other odors in the area or because the odorant has diminished so that it is not detectable.

If a natural gas line is damaged accidentally or you smell natural gas:

  • Leave the premises immediately and instruct others to move a safe distance away from the potential leak, while avoiding any source of ignition, like a cell phone, cigarette, match, candle, flashlight, electronic device, vehicle, light switch or landline.
  • Avoid using machinery, equipment or anything that might ignite a spark.
  • Call 911 and the Atlanta Gas Light 24-hour emergency phone line at 877.427.4321 from a safe location.