IAMU has been asked to remind members that when you have an excavator or anyone else that violates the Iowa One Call laws, Chapter 480, to please report the violator to the Iowa Attorney General (AG) office at 515-281-5164. Ask for Jake Larsen, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of One Call violations. It was brought to our attention that not once since Chapter 480 was implemented has a municipal utility contacted the AG office regarding enforcement. We encourage utilities to turn in those bad actors to the AG office. Calling in complaints to the Iowa One Call call center about these violators is not effective. The call center is run by a 3rd party, and they do not follow up with violators if you call in a complaint.
We know turning in your town's only excavator can be problematic since they may be the only company in town that does this work and they could be your neighbor. IAMU hears repeated stories that you are talking to the contractors, but their behavior does not change. This is putting your underground facilities in danger of being damaged causing customer disruption; and in the worst case, hitting a gas line and causing a fire or explosion. You can only tell or warn them so many times. Think of it this way, if you know them and they live and work in your town you know their spouse and kids. What is more uncomfortable, correcting their bad behaviors or having to know that the contractor neighbor was killed from hitting an electric line, knocking out 911 phone services, hitting a gas line, or caused one of your customers to be hurt or killed.
We sometimes hear that it is another issue that keeps utilities from reporting; “since they are the only contractor in the area if I push them to follow the law they won’t work for the city”. First, it is the law and they are required to follow Chapter 480. Second, will they really refuse the work? Are they that financially secure to turn down work within your city limits? Again, hit them up on the human side, you are protecting them and your customers by requiring their compliance to the law.
Below are the Chapter 480.6 Civil penalties.
- 1. A person who violates a provision of this chapter is subject to a civil penalty as follows:
- For a violation related to natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines, an amount not to exceed ten thousand dollars for each violation for each day the violation continues, up to a maximum of five hundred thousand dollars.
- For a violation related to any other underground facility, an amount not to exceed one thousand dollars for each violation for each day the violation continues, up to a maximum of twenty thousand dollars.
- The attorney general, upon the receipt of a complaint, may institute any legal proceedings necessary to enforce the penalty provisions of this chapter.
- All amounts collected pursuant to this section shall be remitted to the Treasurer of State, who shall deposit the amount in the general fund of the state.
Any affected person may make application to the district court for injunctive relief from any violation of this chapter.
To read the entire Chapter 480 go to www.iowaonecall.com.