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For immediate release Friday, Sept. 25, 2009.
Contact Bob Brammer 515-281-6699, Rbrammer@ag.state.ia.us

Excavators Pay Penalties
for “One Call” Violations

Courts order excavators in
Boone, Hancock, Warren and Grundy Counties
to pay penalties for violating the One Call law.

Des Moines, Sept. 25, 2009. Excavators in four counties have been ordered to pay civil penalties for failing to notify the “One Call” hotline before conducting an excavation.

“The One Call law requires at least 48-hour advance notice before excavations, so underground lines can be marked and avoided,” said Attorney General Tom Miller. “Call 800-292-8989.”

District Court judges in Boone, Hancock, Warren and Grundy Counties ordered penalties ranging from $1,000 to $10,000, and prohibited further violations. The court orders, which were entered this week and last week, resolved lawsuits filed by the Attorney General’s Office.

“In each case, the excavators hit or came close to hitting natural gas or other hazardous liquid pipelines,” Miller said. “Fortunately, there were no explosions or deaths this time, but the cases show why the One Call law is so important,” he said.

“The One Call law protects the public, and protects excavators from injury or death,” he said. “It protects the environment and prevents costly disruptions. It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s free. It just makes sense – and it’s the law.” [See below for more on the One Call program.]

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Details on cases in the four counties:

Boone County – Heck’s Dozer, Inc., of Ogden.

Heck’s Dozer, Inc., was assessed a civil penalty of $10,000 and prohibited from further violations. [Go to Order entered 9-15-09 by Judge David R. Danilson, and AG’s lawsuit.]

Heck’s Dozer conducted two excavations in August 2008 to clear brush without first contacting the Iowa One Call Notification Center and providing prior notice of the excavation to owners and operators of underground facilities in the area. During the first excavation, a 24-inch diameter natural gas pipeline under 198.9 psi of pressure (pounds per square inch of pressure) was hit and damaged. The company did not give notification of the damage until four days later.

Nine months later, the company again engaged in an excavation to clear brush without first contacting the Iowa One Call Notification Center and providing prior notice of the excavation to owners and operators of underground facilities in the area. The excavation went directly over a 30-inch diameter natural gas pipeline under 800 psi of pressure and was approaching a 26-inch diameter pipeline under 745 psi of pressure and a 30-inch diameter natural gas pipeline under 745 psi of pressure.

Hancock County – Scott Johnson, of Britt.

Scott Johnson was assessed a civil penalty of $5,000 and prohibited from further violations. [Go to Order entered 9-14-09 by Judge John S. Mackey, and AG’s lawsuit.]

Johnson conducted an excavation in March 2009 to repair a tile line without first contacting the Iowa One Call Notification Center and providing prior notice of the excavation to owners and operators of underground facilities. During the excavation, a 6-inch diameter natural gas pipeline under 423 psi of pressure was hit and damaged by a shovel and hammer. Johnson backfilled over the damaged pipeline and then notified the Iowa One Call Notification Center of his intention to conduct tile drainage repairs. Johnson paid $3,975.23 to the pipeline for the cost of repairs.

Warren County – Lamberti Concrete, Inc., of Elkhart.

Lamberti Construction, Inc., was assessed a civil penalty of $5,000 and prohibited from further violations. [Go to Order entered 9-15-09 by Judge William Joy, and AG’s lawsuit.]

The company conducted an excavation in June 2009 to install a sidewalk in Norwalk without first contacting the Iowa One Call Notification Center and providing prior notice of the excavation to owners and operators of underground facilities. The excavation went directly over two hazardous liquids pipelines -- an 8-inch diameter pipeline carrying unleaded gasoline under 1100 psi of pressure, and an 8-inch diameter pipeline carrying butane under 1300 psi of pressure.

Grundy County – Kruger Farms, Inc., of Dike.

Kruger Farms, Inc., was assessed a civil penalty of $1,000 and prohibited from further violations. [Go to Order entered 9-21-09 by Judge Thomas N. Bower, and AG’s lawsuit.]

The company conducted an excavation in October 2008 to repair a tile line without first contacting the Iowa One Call Notification Center and providing prior notice of the excavation to owners and operators of underground facilities. During the excavation, the company contacted the Iowa One Call Notification Center regarding the excavation. The excavation came within 78 feet of a 20-inch diameter natural gas pipeline under 658 psi of pressure, and 132 feet of a 26-inch diameter natural gas pipeline under 658 psi of pressure, prior to the pipelines being located and marked.

Background on Iowa’s “One Call” Law:

Iowa’s One Call Center is reached at 1-800-292-8989, or via the national 8-1-1 number. It is located in Davenport and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. A team of about 40 customer service personnel handles over 50,000 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: 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. 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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