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Attorney General Files Lawsuits in Seven Counties over Alleged One Call Violations

Posted By IAMU, Monday, January 18, 2016

 

Last week the Attorney General’s (AG’s) office has filed seven lawsuits in six counties over alleged violations of Iowa’s One Call law; plus two more cases resolved in September.  All of the nine cases involve natural gas pipelines.

IAMU members know that One Call violations also happen in electric, water, and broadband.  The AG’s office has not filled any cases involving contractors or others in our municipal utilities because our IAMU members are not reporting any violations.   No matter which underground utility you might own, when you have One Call violations that should be reported, please report the incident to Assistant Attorney General Jacob Larson at 515-281-5341. 

Doug Klima, Klima Drainage (Delaware County)

The Delaware County District Court has ordered that Doug Klima, of Center Point, pay a $8,500 civil penalty and permanently enjoined Klima from violating the One Call law.

According to Miller’s lawsuit, on April 8, 2015, Doug Klima conducted multiple excavations to install drainage tile in rural Delaware County without providing a 48-hour notice of the planned excavation and, thereby, failed to provide notice to operators of underground facilities. Doug Klima placed a locate request for a planned excavation on April 7, 2015, but when pipeline staff arrived on April 8, 2015, to locate and mark an underground natural gas pipeline, they observed that Klima had already commenced the excavation. The excavations had come within approximately 30 feet of a three-inch diameter natural gas pipeline.

Miller’s office has previously taken enforcement actions against Klima Drainage for conducting excavations without providing a 48-hour notice of the planned excavation to the owners and operators of underground facilities. In 2000, the Iowa District Court in Jones County assessed Klima Drainage a civil penalty of $5,000 for its violations of Iowa’s One Call statute and permanently enjoined Klima Drainage from further violations of the statute. In 2002, the Iowa District Court in Jones County found Klima Drainage in contempt of court for violating the terms of the permanent injunction and penalized Klima Drainage $500 for additional violations of the statute.

C&M Plumbing LLC (Polk County)

According to Miller’s petition, on June 4, 2015, C&M Plumbing conducted an excavation to install a floor drain pipe for a new garage in Polk County, without first contacting the Iowa One Call notification center and, thereby, failed to provide notice to operators of underground facilities. During the excavation, the company’s equipment hit and severed a half-inch diameter natural gas pipeline. The excavator failed to notify the owner of the pipeline, MidAmerican Energy, of the damaged pipeline. Instead, the excavator attempted to repair the gas line and the released natural gas ignited, resulting in injuries to the excavator, damage to the excavation equipment, and remediation costs to MidAmerican Energy. Emergency response was made by the Bondurant Fire Department, Polk County Sheriff’s Office, and MidAmerican Energy.

The petition seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief.

ALL PRO Electrical Technology Inc. (Jefferson County)

The Jefferson County District Court ordered that ALL PRO Electrical Technology Inc., of Warrensburg, MO, pay a $5,000 civil penalty and permanently enjoined ALL PRO from violating the One Call law.

According to Miller’s lawsuit, May 22, 2015, ALL PRO conducted excavations to install electrical lines in Fairfield, without first contacting the Iowa One Call notification center and, thereby, failed to provide notice to operators of underground facilities. During the excavation, ALL PRO’s equipment hit and damaged a two-inch natural gas pipeline.

Wunderlich Inc. (Des Moines County)

The Des Moines County District Court ordered that Wunderlich Inc., of Burlington, pay a $5,000 civil penalty and permanently enjoined Wunderlich from violating the One Call law.

According to Miller’s lawsuit, on March 27, 2015, Wunderlich conducted an excavation to install drainage tile in Burlington, without first contacting the Iowa One Call notification center and, thereby, failed to provide notice to operators of underground facilities. During the excavation, the defendant’s tiling equipment hit and damaged a one-inch diameter natural gas pipeline. The equipment completely severed the pipeline. Emergency Response was made by Alliant Energy.

Pleva Plumbing & Heating Inc., d/b/a Pleva Mechanical Inc. (Buena Vista County)

The Buena Vista County District Court ordered that Pleva Plumbing & Hearing Inc., d/b/a Pleva Mechanical Inc., of Woodward, pay a $3,500 civil penalty and permanently enjoined Pleva Mechanical from violating the One Call law.

According to Miller’s lawsuit, on January 9, 2015, Pleva Mechanical conducted excavations to install a fuel line in Storm Lake, without first contacting the Iowa One Call notification center and, thereby, failed to provide notice to operators of underground facilities. Pleva Mechanical was excavating compacted, frosted soil which resulted in damage to a two-inch diameter natural gas pipeline and the evacuation of nearby people. Emergency response was made by Alliant Energy.

Jeremy Erie, d/b/a Proformer Concrete (Linn County)

According to Miller’s petition, on June 9, 2015, Proformer Concrete conducted an excavation to install footings for a new deck in Mount Vernon, without providing a 48-hour notice of the planned excavation to the owners and operators of underground facilities. Proformer Concrete placed a locate request for the planned excavation on May 19, 2015. On June 4, 2015, Alliant Energy completed replacing and relocating a natural gas pipeline located in the vicinity of where Proformer Concrete’s excavation was planned. Proformer Concrete’s locate request expired on June 8, 2015. Proformer Concrete did not place a new locate request for the planned excavation prior to the June 9, 2015 excavation.

During the June 9, 2015 excavation, Proformer Concrete’s equipment hit and severed a one-inch diameter natural gas pipeline, resulting in the evacuation of approximately 20 people from nearby homes and remediation costs to the pipeline company. Emergency response was made by Alliant Energy, and Mount Vernon and Lisbon Fire Departments.

The petition seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief.

Hands on Excavating LLC (Story County)

According to Miller’s petition, on March 24, 2015, Hands on Excavating conducted an excavation to repair drainage tile in rural Hardin County, without providing a 48-hour notice of the planned excavation to the owners and operators of underground facilities and the excavations occurred within 25 feet of an underground natural gas transmission line without having a representative of the transmission line present for the excavation. Hands on Excavating placed a locate request for a planned excavation to repair drainage tile on March 16, 2015.  Hands on Excavating then exceeded the limits of that locate request by going beyond the area identified in the locate request for the planned excavation to repair additional drainage tile without providing additional notice. During the excavation, Hands on Excavating’s equipment hit and damaged a three-inch diameter natural gas pipeline. Emergency response was made by Northern Natural Gas.

The petition seeks civil penalties and injunctive relief.

Two More Cases Filed and Resolved in September

In September, Miller filed two additional One Call lawsuits in two counties alleging similar violations.

Iowa Drainage Inc. (Franklin County)

On September 23 in Franklin County District Court, Miller filed a lawsuit against Iowa Drainage Inc. of Sheffield.

According to Miller’s lawsuit, on March 30, 2015, the defendant conducted an excavation to install drainage tile in Franklin County, without providing a 48-hour notice of the planned excavation to the owners and operators of underground facilities and the excavations occurred within 25 feet of an underground natural gas transmission line without having a representative of the transmission line present for the excavation. Iowa Drainage placed a One Call locate request on March 28, 2015, but began conducting the excavation prior to having any underground facilities located and marked in the area of the planned excavation.

During the excavations, the defendant’s tiling equipment hit and damaged a natural gas pipeline. Emergency response was made by Northern Natural Gas.

On the same day Miller filed the lawsuit, a Franklin County District Court judge ordered Iowa Drainage to pay a $7,000 civil penalty and permanently enjoined the company from violating the One Call law.

Michael Malmin, Malmin LLC (Mitchell County)

On September 23 in Mitchell County District Court, Miller filed a lawsuit against Malmin LLC, of Osage.

According to Miller’s lawsuit, on May 8 and 11, 2015, the defendant conducted an excavation to remove cement and prepare the area for new cement in Mitchell County, without first contacting the Iowa One Call notification center and, thereby, failed to provide notice to operators of underground facilities. During the excavations, Malmin’s equipment came to within 18-24 inches of a two-inch natural gas pipeline and within ten feet of a one-inch natural gas pipeline.

On September 27, a Mitchell County District Court judge ordered Malmin to pay a $1,500 civil penalty and permanently enjoined the company from violating the One Call law.

Background on Iowa’s One Call Law

Excavators, farm operations and homeowners can notify the Iowa One Call Notification Center about planned digging or excavating online at www.iowaonecall.com, or by phone at 811 (or toll-free at 800-292-8989). The center is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Iowa One Call sends "locate requests" immediately to utility companies, which are required to mark underground utility locations within 48 hours with flags or paint showing where underground lines are located.

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 handles more than 400,000 incoming calls, and coordinates more than two million underground facility "locates" in Iowa. The center handles more than 50,000 calls a month during peak seasons.

Iowa’s One Call law (Iowa Code Ch. 480) has been in effect since 1993. Iowa One Call is paid for by owners and operators of pipelines and other underground facilities. Services provided by Iowa One Call are free to homeowners, contractors and professional 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.

For more information about Iowa One Call go to the Iowa One Call website, or contact Ben Booth, Iowa One Call Public Relations/Communications Manager, at 515-278-8700 (work), or 515-707-3998 (cell), or benbooth@netins.net.

Tags:  Iowa One Call  Safety 

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