Three Excavating Companies Penalized in Iowa

Wed November 27, 2002 - National Edition

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ The state Attorney General’s office is cracking down on excavation contractors who fail to call utility companies before they dig.

C & L Drainage, of Strawberry Point, must pay $15,000 for violating the so-called One Call law. The law requires at least 48-hour notice to the One Call center before excavation so that underground gas, electric and other utility lines can be avoided.

District Court Judge Alan L. Pearson issued the order Monday in Delaware County District Court. It requires the company’s owners Curt and Leo Bockenstedt to pay the civil penalty.

”When excavators fail to make that simple One Call it can result in injury or death, property damage, environmental harm, or loss of essential services for the public,’ Attorney General Tom Miller said.

The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleged that the Bockenstedts’ plow punctured a BP pipeline carrying gasoline in rural Delaware County on April 17. No explosion occurred, but more than 8,000 gallons of fuel escaped.

The pipeline was shut down for about 44 hours while it was repaired.

BP estimated pipe repair and environmental cleanup costs at more than $500,000.

A fine also was ordered in an unrelated case in Scott County in which Engelbrecht Brothers Tiling of Eldridge was accused of digging above a natural gas pipeline and a liquid propane and butane line in April 2001 without first calling the One Call center.

Judge Mark Smith assessed a penalty of $3,500 against the company.

In a third case, Steve Shindelar of Ridgeway agreed to pay a $1,500 civil penalty for failure to notify utility companies in October 2001 before digging on a Winneshiek County farm about 10 miles west of Decorah.

Court documents said Shindelar Excavating dug directly above a Northern Natural Gas steel pipeline.

Iowa’s One Call law has been in effect since 1993.

The One Call phone center is paid for by owners and operators of pipelines and other underground facilities and services provided are free to excavators.