Des Moines. Attorney General Tom Miller said today that Judge Jeffrey A. Neary has ordered Dean Quirk and Spring Lake Construction of Odebolt to pay a $5,000 civil penalty for failing to comply with Iowa's “One Call” statute. The law requires at least 48-hour advance notification by excavators before they dig, so underground pipelines and other utilities can be marked and avoided.
“In this case, we alleged that the excavator hit and damaged a 6-inch hazardous liquids pipeline carrying gasoline,” Miller said. “Fortunately, there was no explosion and no disaster -- but it shows why the One Call law is so important.”
Miller’s office alleged in a lawsuit that Quirk was using a backhoe to excavate for the foundation of a new hog confinement building at a site located between Akron and Le Mars in Plymouth County. The suit alleged that Quirk hit and damaged the pipeline, then back-filled over the damage and failed to take reasonable actions to alleviate the emergency. Quirk denied that he hit or damaged the pipeline but admitted that he failed to call One Call.
Judge Neary today also ordered $1,000 civil penalties for two other excavators for digging without the required One Call notification at the same time and same site in the vicinity of the hazardous liquids pipeline. Each of the three separate matters was resolved today with simultaneous filings of the State’s lawsuit and a Consent Order, Judgment and Decree issued by Judge Neary.
The Attorney General’s Office has filed One Call enforcement actions in 19 counties in recent years. These are the first actions filed in Plymouth County in Northwest Iowa.
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Details on the Plymouth County One Call Violations:
Dean Quirk doing business as Spring Lake Construction:
Quirk is the owner of Spring Lake Construction, located at 317 West 2nd St. Odebolt, Iowa.
The lawsuit alleged that Quirk on Nov. 8, 2005, used a backhoe to excavate for the foundation of a new hog confinement building without first calling the One Call Notification Center and giving notice to operators of nearby underground facilities.
The suit alleged that Quirk hit and damaged a 6-inch diameter hazardous liquids pipeline owned by Kaneb Pipeline. The pipeline was transporting gasoline from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Attorney General alleged that Quirk hit and damaged the pipeline, backfilled over the damage, and failed to take reasonable actions to alleviate the emergency. Quirk denied that he hit or damaged the pipeline but admitted that he failed to call One Call.
Quirk was assessed and has paid a $5,000 penalty for failure to call One Call. The Court also permanently enjoined Quirk from further violations of the One Call statute.
Dakota Drilling and Backhoe, Inc.:
The company’s home office is in South Sioux City, Nebraska. The lawsuit alleged that on Nov. 8, 2005, Dakota Drilling drilled a well several hundred feet deep a few hundred feet from the Kaneb hazardous liquids pipeline. Dakota Drilling admitted that it failed to call One Call. The company was assessed a $1,000 civil penalty and was permanently enjoined from further violations of the One Call statute.
North West Rural Electric Cooperative:
North West Rural Electric Cooperative’s home office is located in Orange City, Iowa. The lawsuit alleged the Cooperative conducted excavations to install a new utility pole and replace another, to approximate depths of four feet, approximately 100 feet from the Kaneb hazardous liquids pipeline. North West Rural Electric Cooperative admitted that it failed to call One Call. The cooperative was assessed a $1,000 penalty and was permanently enjoined from further violations of the One Call statute.
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 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 underground lines are located. The One Call web site is found at: www.iowaonecall.com/index2.php .
Utility operators locate and mark underground facilities such as gas, hazardous liquids, 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. 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.
“The law protects the public and protects excavators from injury or death,” Miller said. “It protects the environment and avoids costly disruptions. I always emphasize that One Call is easy, it’s fast, and it’s free. It just makes sense -- and it’s the law.”