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Protecting the Environment

For immediate release - February 20, 2006.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699

Madison County Company pays $5,000 for Violation of "One Call" Law

Archer Construction of Cumming has paid $5,000 civil penalty.

Attorney General's lawsuit alleged violation of "One Call Law," which requires excavators to notify the state One Call Center before digging.

Winterset. Attorney General Tom Miller said today that Judge Peter A. Keller has ordered a $5,000 civil penalty against Archer Construction Incorporated of Cumming for failure to comply with Iowa's One Call statute, which requires at least 48-hour advance notification by excavators before digging so underground pipelines and other utilities can be marked and avoided.

"In this case, the excavator narrowly missed a pipeline carrying a highly-explosive hazardous liquid," Miller said. "It shows why the One Call law is so important."

The State lawsuit, filed December 29, alleged that Archer Construction failed to call the One Call Notification Center prior to conducting an excavation last July in rural Madison County. On July 14, a pipeline patrol plane observed that an excavation had been conducted near two hazardous liquids pipelines. The pipeline company investigated and determined that several holes had been drilled as part of a septic tank percolation test -- and that the excavation missed an 8-inch diameter hazardous liquids pipeline by about four feet. The pipeline was carrying isobutane -- a highly explosive and flammable liquid -- under 480 pounds per square inch of pressure.

The consent decree resolving the lawsuit was entered today in Madison County District Court. The Court also permanently prohibited any further violations of the One Call law. [Copy of the Consent Decree.]

The Attorney General's Office has filed 19 One Call enforcement actions in 18 counties. This is the first One Call action filed in Madison County.

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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 excavators alike 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."