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

For immediate release - Friday, November 2nd, 2001. Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Attorney General

Enforces Iowa's "One Call" Law

Actions allege that contractors excavated near pipelines without making required prior notice to Iowa's "One Call" notification center.

DES MOINES. Attorney General Tom Miller has filed four separate court actions to enforce the Iowa "One Call" law, which requires at least 48-hour advance notification to the state "One Call" center prior to any excavation. In one case, a pipeline company employee was killed and a second was seriously injured after a tiling machine hit a natural gas pipeline.

In each of the four cases, the lawsuits allege that different excavation companies failed to provide required "One Call" notification prior to excavating near pipelines designed to carry natural gas or natural gas liquids (such as highly-flammable propane, ethylene and ethane.) The legal actions involve Chickasaw, Fayette, Delaware, Jones, and Clinton counties. The suits seek civil penalties up to $10,000 per day and injunctions barring any future violations. In one case, the suit asks the court to find a defendant in contempt of court because of prior violations.

"The One Call law is designed to protect everyone from personal injury or loss of property that could be caused by risky excavations," Miller said. "Any underground utilities can be located and marked before digging. The law protects the public and excavators alike, and failure to comply can have grave consequences ranging from death and injury to property damage, environmental harm, and loss of essential services for the public."

"We must have strict compliance with Iowa's One Call law," Miller said. "It's easy, it's fast, it's free, it's important, and it's the 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. A team of 40 customer service personnel handle about 40,000 calls a month during peak seasons. The One Call Center sends "locate requests" to utility companies who are then required within 48 hours to mark underground utility locations with flags or paint showing where excavators should not dig.

The "Iowa One Call" organization coordinates utility locating and marking for underground utilities including gas, electric, communications, cable TV, water and sewer lines.

The actions filed Thursday by the Attorney General's Environmental Law Division include:

  • Fayette County: One action filed in Fayette County arises in part from a November 1999 incident where a natural gas pipeline was hit by a tiling machine. The 10-inch diameter pipeline with a maximum pressure of 960 pounds per square inch subsequently ruptured, killing one pipeline employee and seriously injuring another pipeline employee, both of whom were on site in response to the damaged pipeline.

The Fayette County suit alleges that the excavator, Recker Construction, Inc., and Lyle Recker, told the owner of the pipeline that they would not be in the area of the pipeline and that the location of the pipeline did not need to be marked. The suit further alleges that the Reckers changed their excavation plans but failed to provide notice and then proceeded to run their tiling machine into the natural gas pipeline owned and operated by Northern Natural Gas Company.

The suit also alleges that one week prior to that incident, Recker failed to provide 48-hour notice of an excavation at a different location. That excavation allegedly came to within 30 feet of a natural gas pipeline owned by Alliance Pipeline before the pipeline location could be marked.

  • Clinton County: The suit alleges failure to provide notice of a May 2000 excavation in Welton, Iowa, where a 3-inch diameter natural gas pipeline with pressure of 30 pounds per square inch, owned and operated by Alliant Pipeline, was hit and severed. Natural gas escaped, resulting in the evacuation and dismissal of a nearby elementary school. The excavator, Bruhn Brothers Incorporated, has agreed to an injunction and $1000 civil penalty.
  • Jones and Delaware counties: The Attorney General's suit seeks a finding of contempt of court and sanctions against Doug Klima, doing business as Klima Tiling and also known as Klima Drainage and Land Improvement, for allegedly conducting an October 2000 excavation near a Northern Natural Gas pipeline in Delaware County without first providing a One Call notice. The contempt application seeks to enforce a court order issued just three months prior to the excavation by the Jones County District Court prohibiting further violations of the One Call law and assessing a $5000 civil penalty for prior failure to provide a One Call notice near a natural gas liquids pipeline.
  • Chicakasaw County: The lawsuit filed against Walter Wenthold Excavating, Inc., alleges failure to provide proper notice of an excavation to create a drainage ditch near a 12-inch diameter natural gas liquids pipeline with a maximum pressure of 1400 pounds per square inch, owned and operated by Dome Pipeline. The suit alleges that no One Call notice was provided for two different excavations on April 26, 2001, one of which was directly above the natural gas pipeline and the other close to the pipeline. The excavator, Walter Wenthold Excavating, Inc., has agreed to an injunction and $5000 civil penalty.

The legal actions were filed Thursday afternoon at the counties by the Attorney General's Environmental Law Division.

- 30 -

Attorney General Home | News Release Home