Calling ahead before digging is vital move

Aug. 11 was National Safe Digging Day, and safety was top of mind. But that was only a single day. As co-chairs of the Alameda County 811 Task Force, we want to ensure safe digging is on everyone's mind year-round.

Every digging job requires an important phone call before starting even the smallest project. Contractors and homeowners must call 811 at least two working days before digging. PG&E will then locate and mark the utility lines for free.

Digging into utility lines creates safety and reliability concerns, including service interruptions, equipment damage, injuries or death.

In 2012, there were more than 1,000 incidents where a customer or third party contractor dug into PG&E's natural gas pipeline or electric lines without calling 811 first. In Alameda County alone there were more than 200 of these third-party dig-ins in 2012. A call to 811 prevents damages more than 99 percent of the time, according to the Common Ground Alliance.

PG&E and Alameda County leaders have joined forces to create the Alameda County 811 Task Force. Together, we're working to reduce the number of utility damages in Alameda County.

John Higgins

Senior director of gas distribution maintenance and construction, PG&E

Renee Domingo


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Director of emergency services and homeland security, City of Oakland

Lawsuits over Chevron refinery fire a bit much

Wow. As of Aug. 13, 5,000 more people are now suing Chevron for the fire at the refinery plant in Richmond.

Does anyone know if it's OK for cats and dogs to file, too? What about if we drove by the fire, can we sue?

Jack Gayle

Castro Valley

Court made right decision on insulin

With students now returning to school, I applaud the California Supreme Court decision to allow school employees other than nurses to administer insulin to children under carefully controlled circumstances.

Because only 5 percent of California schools have a full-time nurse, this makes it much easier to get these students prompt access to the care they need. In the past, the requirement that only school nurses give insulin meant that parents needed to be ready at a moment's notice to come to school and help their kids.

School staff who volunteer to help these kids will receive clear training and instructions under the common-sense approach approved by the court. This approach is already working successfully in many other states.

I serve on the local leadership board of the American Diabetes Association, and am proud of the role our organization played fighting for over eight years to reach this outcome.

All students have a right to pursue their education in a healthy, safe environment. This decision vastly improves the lives of students with diabetes and their families.

Rodney Paul

Kensington

Cannot avoid facts on Israel apartheid

Jewish Voice for Peace is a great organization, and it came as a surprise that an Aug. 6 letter writer, who identifies himself as a member, tried to deny the obvious.

Israeli professor Uri Davis wrote two books documenting apartheid practices inside the state of Israel, "Israel: An Apartheid State" in 1987, and "Apartheid Israel: Possibilities for the Struggle Within" in 2003.

Furthermore, a careful legal study conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa examined Israeli practices in occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, concluding that the practices meet the international legal definition of the crimes of colonialism and apartheid.

Readers are also invited to watch the film "Roadmap to Apartheid," narrated by "The Color Purple" author Alice Walker.

People desiring peace should start by facing, not skirting, the truth. Under international law, colonialism and apartheid are crimes against humanity, and every government, individual or group is legally obligated to do what they can, including boycott, divestment and sanctions to end these crimes.

Hassan Fouda

Kensington