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

For immediate release - Tuesday, October 1, 2002.

Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

N.W. Iowa Excavator Pays Penalty for "One Call" Law Violation

AG's suit alleged that contractor failed to make required prior notice to Iowa's "One Call" notification center -- and severed a natural gas pipeline.

Emmetsburg. A northwest Iowa drainage tile contractor that severed a natural gas pipeline has been ordered to pay a $7000 civil penalty for violating Iowa's "One Call" law. The law requires at least 48-hour advance notification to the state "One Call" center prior to any excavation, so that underground lines can be avoided.

A tiling machine operated by Thompson Farm Drainage of Lone Rock struck and cut a Northern Natural Gas pipeline on a farm about a mile southeast of the town of Cylinder in Palo Alto County. The incident occurred on April 8, 2002. There was no explosion nor injuries, but natural gas service to Cylinder was disrupted until repairs were completed at 12:40 a.m. the next morning by Northern Natural Gas. The pipeline company's repair costs were estimated at about $10,000.

"This was a very close call that could have been avoided by contacting the One Call center," said Attorney General Tom Miller. He said excavators are required to notify the center at least 48 hours before digging, so that any underground utilities can be located, marked and avoided.

"It's easy, it's fast, it's free, it's important -- and it's the law," Miller said. "The One Call law protects the public and excavators alike."

Defendants in the One Call enforcement action were Eugene Thompson and Rick Thompson, doing business as Thompson Farm Drainage of Lone Rock, Iowa. Judge Patrick Carr entered the "Consent Order, Judgment and Decree" yesterday in Palo Alto County District Court in Emmetsburg, ordering the defendants to pay the $7,000 civil penalty and prohibiting further violations. The Attorney General's Office simultaneously filed a lawsuit that was resolved by the Judge's consent order. The suit noted that a permanent Northern Natural Gas pipeline marker and warning sign were located by the field where the defendants severed the pipeline. The pipeline was under pressure of 700 pounds per square inch.

The lawsuit is the first One Call case filed in Northwest Iowa.

Miller said several other One Call investigations are pending.

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 handle over 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 must avoid underground lines.

After being contacted by the "Iowa One Call" center, utilities locate and mark underground facilities including gas, electric, communications, cable TV, water and sewer lines.

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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