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January 10, 2012

Polk County Judge Penalizes West Des Moines Company for One Call Violation

(DES MOINES, Iowa) A Polk County judge penalized a West Des Moines company $7,000 Tuesday for violating the Iowa One Call statute.

On or about September 21, 2010, MJM Holdings, Inc., doing business as Speck USA, Inc., conducted excavations to install a loading dock at 4131 – 109th Street in Urbandale.  According to a petition filed Tuesday by Attorney General Tom Miller, MJM did not contact the One Call Notification Center regarding these excavations and failed to provide notice to operators of underground facilities whose facilities may be affected by the excavation.  Instead, MJM proceeded with the excavations without any underground facilities having been located and marked.

MidAmerican Energy is the owner and operator of a 2-inch diameter natural gas pipeline, which runs underground in the vicinity of where the excavations occurred.  During the excavations, MJM’s backhoe hit and severed the pipeline.  The incident resulted in the release of natural gas, an emergency response by MidAmerican Energy and the City of Urbandale Fire Department, and evacuation of area businesses during repairs.

Under the consent decree, District Judge D.J. Stovall ordered MJM to pay the civil penalty, and permanently enjoined the company from further violations of the One Call law.

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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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