The Facilities Protection Unit of the Georgia Public Service Commission is comprised of the pipeline safety enforcement function, as well as the enforcement of damage prevention efforts for buried utilities. The pipeline safety function is carried out through an agreement with the Pipeline and Hazards Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The Pipeline Safety Group is responsible for enforcement of federal regulations regarding the safe installation and operation of natural gas pipelines. 2008 marked the 40th year of this relationship between PHMSA and the Georgia Public Service Commission.
Meanwhile, the damage prevention efforts are a result of the responsibility assigned to the Commission in 2000 by the passage of the Georgia Utility Facility Protection Act. The goals of the Act are:
1) to prevent injury to Georgia citizens
2) to prevent damage to buried utilities.
The law requires those seeking to perform mechanized excavation activities in the state to communicate with those who have buried facilities in the proposed area of excavation so that those facilities might be identified and thereby avoid damage.