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For immediate release – Thursday, April 19, 2007.
Contact Bob Brammer – 515-281-6699.

 

Judge Orders $10,000 Penalty for “One-Call” Violation by Mansions at Hemingway in Johnston

Excavation hit 2-inch natural gas pipeline, causing an explosion and fire.
In separate matter, Webster County Judge orders $7,000 One Call penalty.


Des Moines .  Attorney General Tom Miller said today that Polk County District Court Judge Robert Hanson has ordered Mansions at Hemingway LLC to pay the maximum $10,000 civil penalty for failing to call the statewide One Call notification center prior to conducting an excavation on August 24, 2006, at the Mansions at Hemingway apartment complex in Johnston.

Iowa’s “One Call” law requires at least 48-hour advance notification by excavators before they dig, so underground pipelines and other utilities can be marked and avoided.

The Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit today alleging that Mansions at Hemingway proceeded with the excavation without having any underground facilities located and marked.

“We alleged that during the excavation a skid loader hit and damaged a two-inch diameter MidAmerican natural gas pipeline, causing an explosion and fire,” Miller said. “There was property damage to the apartment complex, and the explosion and fire endangered occupants of one of the apartment units that was being used as a day-care with three small children,” he said.

“This is a very good example of why the One Call law is so important,” Miller said.

Judge Hanson entered a consent order, judgment and decree resolving the lawsuit. The suit and order both were filed today. In addition to assessing the maximum One Call penalty of $10,000 per violation, the court ordered Mansions at Hemingway to comply with the One Call statute in the future.

Mansions at Hemingway is an Iowa company with a home office located at 1500 South 70th Street, Suite 201, Lincoln, Nebraska 68506. The complex is located at 6944 Hemingway in Johnston.

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Judge Orders $7,000 penalty in Webster County “One Call” Case

In a completely separate case from the Polk County matter:

Webster County District Court Judge Allan Goode has ordered Dennis De Vries, doing business as Elk Creek Tiling, to pay a civil penalty of $7,000 for failing to call the statewide One Call notification center prior to conducting an excavation on December 27, 2006, to install drainage tile in rural Webster County about a dozen miles south of Fort Dodge.

The Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit Wednesday that was resolved by Judge Goode’s order today. The suit alleged that De Vries excavated without having underground facilities located and marked.

During the excavation, the suit alleged, De Vries’s tiling equipment hit and cracked a four-inch diameter Northern Natural Gas pipeline, causing a leak of natural gas, property damage, and the loss of gas service for about 29 hours for farm customers on the pipeline on December 27 and 28.

The suit alleged that De Vries’ tiling equipment also missed two other eight-inch natural gas pipelines by 20 feet and 300 feet, respectively. The buried pipelines carry natural gas to several cities: Callendar, Farnhamville, Gowrie, Harcourt, Lake City, Lohrville, Manson, Rockwell City, and Twin Lakes.

Dennis De Vries was a co-owner of the tiling business known as Elk Creek Tiling, located at 11423 Highway T 14 South, Reasnor, Iowa 50232

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Background on Iowa’s “One Call” Law:

Iowa’s One Call Center is reached at 1-800-292-8989, Miller said. It is located in Davenport and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. A team of about 50 customer service personnel handles over 40,000 calls a month during peak seasons. The One Call Center sends “locate requests” immediately to utility companies, who are required within 48 hours to mark underground utility locations with flags or paint showing where underground lines are located. The One Call web site is found at: www.iowaonecall.com

Utility operators locate and mark underground facilities such as gas, hazardous liquids, communications, electric, cable TV, water, and sewer lines. Each year, Iowa One Call personnel handle more than 400,000 incoming calls, and they coordinate over two million underground facility “locates” in Iowa.

Iowa’s One Call law has been in effect since 1993. The Iowa One Call operation is paid-for by owners and operators of pipelines and other underground facilities. Services provided by Iowa One Call are free of charge to excavators. Violators are subject to a civil penalty up to $10,000 per day for violations related to natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines, and up to $1,000 per day involving other underground facilities. Violators also may be liable for the repair costs of damaged facilities.

“The law protects the public and protects excavators from injury or death,” Miller said. “It protects the environment and avoids costly disruptions. I always emphasize that One Call is easy, it’s fast, and it’s free. It just makes sense -- and it’s the law.”

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On the Web: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org.