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April 2, 2012

Judge Penalizes Two Story County Companies for Violating "Iowa One Call" Law

(NEVADA, Iowa)  A Story County judge penalized two Story County companies Friday for failing to comply with the “Iowa One Call” law prior to conducting excavations to install drainage tile in rural Story County.

Story County District Court Judge Kurt J. Stoebe assessed a $7,000 civil penalty against Larson Agriproducts Limited, of Cambridge, and assessed a $5,000 civil penalty against Tony Morris d/b/a T Morris Trenching, of Maxwell.

The petition against Morris alleged that on October 28, 2011, he conducted excavations with a bulldozer to assist in site preparation for installation of drainage tile.  Morris removed 6 to 12 inches of soil from directly above a 2-inch diameter natural gas pipeline under 784 pounds per square inch of pressure, without first contacting the Iowa One Call Notification Center and having the underground facilities located and marked.

The petition against Larson Agriproducts Limited alleged that on the same day it conducted excavations with a drainage plow in the same area, without first contacting the Iowa One Call Notification Center and having the underground facilities located and marked.  During the excavations, the drainage plow hit and damaged the 2-inch diameter natural gas pipeline.

The damage to the pipeline resulted in the release of natural gas, evacuation of the area, and emergency response by the pipeline owner, Northern Natural Gas, Story County Sheriff’s Office, Iowa State Patrol, City of Huxley Fire Department, Story County Emergency Management Agency, and the American Red Cross.

“This was a situation that not only put the workers in the field in danger, it threatened area residents, first responders and utility crews as well.  And it all could have been avoided by one simple phone call for a free service that the law requires,” said Attorney General Tom Miller.

In addition to the civil penalties assessed, the Court permanently enjoined both defendants from further violations of the Iowa One Call law.

Background on Iowa’s "One Call" Law
Iowa’s One Call Center is reached at 1-800-292-8989, or via the national 811 number.  It is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  Customer service personnel handle more than 50,000 calls a month during peak seasons.  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.  The Iowa One Call website is:

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.

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 of charge 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.


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