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For immediate release – Tuesday, May 15, 2007.
Contact Bob Brammer – 515-281-6699.

J.J. Scheckel Heavy Equipment to Pay Penalty for Jackson Co. “One Call” Violation

Excavation hit gas pipeline near Bellevue, causing an explosion and fire.

Maquoketa, Iowa. A heavy equipment company that hit a 3-inch diameter natural gas pipeline causing an explosion and fire near Bellevue has been ordered to pay a $5,000 civil penalty for failing to call the statewide “One Call” notification center before excavating.

The explosion and flames severely burned the bulldozer operator, Josh J. Scheckel, caused extensive property damage, and temporarily halted natural gas service to about 1300 customers in nearby Bellevue. The incident occurred in late 2005.

“This shows why the One Call law is so important,” Miller said. “The law requires at least 48-hour advance notice before excavations, so underground lines can be marked and avoided.”

District Court Judge Mary E. Howes ordered J. J. Scheckel Heavy Equipment Corp. to pay the civil penalty in an order entered Tuesday at Jackson County District Court in Maquoketa. Josh J. Scheckel is president of the corporation, which has a home office at 21334 Hwy. 62, Bellevue, Iowa. This is the first One Call enforcement action in Jackson County.

The Order resolved a lawsuit that was filed Monday by the Attorney General’s Office. The suit alleged that Scheckel proceeded with a bulldozer excavation in November 2005 about 3 miles southwest of Bellevue near Highway 62, without the required One Call notification -- and thus without the Northern Natural Gas pipeline or other underground facilities being located and marked. [Go to Judge Howes’ Order and Attorney General’s lawsuit.]

“The One Call law protects the public, and it 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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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 to mark underground utility locations within 48 hours 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 (Iowa Code Ch. 480) has been in effect since 1993. (Go to Iowa Code, then enter “480” .) 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.

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On the Web: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org.