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Protecting the Environment

For immediate release -- Wednesday, June 25, 2003.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Algona Well Driller to Pay Penalty for Hancock County "One Call" Violation

Garner. Schumacher Well Drilling, Inc., an Algona excavator that narrowly missed striking a natural gas pipeline when it drilled a 300-foot deep well in rural Hancock County in April, 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. "This was a dangerous close call that could have been avoided."

Miller's office alleged that Schumacher Well Drilling violated the One Call law in connection with excavations April 29 and 30 to install a test well and a permanent water well on a rural property between Garner and Forest City, Iowa. The state alleged the company failed to contact the notification center prior to drilling and then drilled the 300-foot-deep test well only 12 feet away from a 42-inch Northern Border natural gas pipeline.

The pipeline operates under 1090 pounds per square inch of pressure and transmits natural gas from Canada to delivery points in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Illinois. The pipeline lies about four and one-half feet below the surface of the soil.

Yesterday in Garner, Hancock County District Court Judge Jon S. Scoles prohibited any future violations and ordered Schumacher to pay the $5,000 civil penalty.

"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 eleven counties. The cases have resulted in civil penalties, permanent injunctions and, in one case, contempt of court.

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.

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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