Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release -- Tuesday, January 11, 2005.

Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Valley Sand & Gravel of Rock Valley Ordered to Pay $5,000 Penalty for
Sioux County "One Call" Violation

Sioux Center.   Valley Sand & Gravel Inc. of Rock Valley, which hit a 20-inch natural gas pipeline during an excavation to construct a gravel pit, has been ordered to pay a $5,000 civil penalty for violating Iowa's "One Call" law.

"Iowa law requires at least 48-hour advance notification to the state One Call center prior to any excavation so that underground gas, electric and other utility lines can be marked and avoided," Attorney General Tom Miller said today.

"We alleged that Valley Sand failed to make that call before excavating," he said. "The pipeline did not leak or rupture, but this was a dangerous close call that could have been avoided."

Sioux County District Court Judge James Scott entered an order yesterday assessing the $5,000 civil penalty and prohibiting any future violations of the One Call law. Valley Sand & Gravel agreed to the result, resolving a lawsuit filed last week by the Attorney General's Environmental Law Division.

The lawsuit alleged that Valley Sand & Gravel engaged in excavation on October 19, 2004, to construct a gravel pit near Rock Valley. The company failed to contact the statewide One Call notification center prior to the excavation. During the excavation, a backhoe hit the 20-inch diameter Northern Natural Gas pipeline and damaged the pipeline coating. The pipeline did not leak or rupture, but costs to repair the pipeline exceeded $7,000. The pipeline, which operated under approximately 688 pounds per square inch of pressure, provides natural gas to approximately seventy cities and over 280,000 people between Rock Valley, IA, and Aberdeen, SD.

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Background on Iowa's "One Call" Law:

Iowa's One Call Center is reached at 1-800-292-8989. 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 excavators must avoid underground lines.

Utility operators locate and mark underground facilities including gas, communications, electric, cable TV, water, and sewer lines.

"The One Call law protects the public and excavators alike from injury or damages, and it protects the environment," Miller said. "It's easy, it's fast, it's free, and it's the law. Making the call means that underground facilities will be marked, and excavators can avoid injury or death, property damage, environmental harm, or loss of essential public services."

Miller's Office has brought One Call enforcement actions in fifteen counties. The cases have resulted in civil penalties, permanent injunctions and, in one case, contempt of court.

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.

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