Two Iowa excavating companies have agreed to stiff civil penalties for causing gas line explosions after they failed to notify Iowa One Call before digging.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller filed two separate lawsuits Friday for One Call violations that happened in Plymouth and Jackson counties. The two companies involved didn’t give 48 hours notice to utility companies, as is required by law to allow companies to mark utility lines, before digging.
DeRocher Construction was excavating in rural Plymouth County near Hinton on April 25th when a tile plow hit and ruptured a 24-inch diameter natural gas pipeline. The resulting explosion injured two workers and caused significant damage to the land, equipment, and pipeline.
On April 27, Kunde Dozing & Tiling was excavating to install drainage tile in rural Jackson County near Zwingle, when tiling equipment hit and ruptured a 16-inch diameter natural gas pipeline causing an explosion. The explosion destroyed the tiling equipment and caused property damage to the land and pipeline.
DeRocher reached a consent agreement with the Iowa AG’s office and will pay a civil penalty of $20,000. Kunde Dozing & Tiling also reached an agreement and will pay a $10,000 fine. DeRocher’s fine is larger because a second violation of the One Call law was discovered, just a week after the explosion.
Permanent injunctions against further violations have also been put into place against both companies. That means if another One Call violation is discovered, the company could be held in contempt and jail time is possible.
If you’re planning to do any digging you need to call 811 at least 48 hours beforehand, in order for utility companies to mark where service lines are.