Kentucky PSC to begin prosecution of excavators who damage lines due to negligence
Under a new law going into effect this week, the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) will begin punishing excavators who fail to call to have lines marked before they dig, and as a result, end up damaging natural gas or hazardous liquid lines.
Before this law, the PSC was unable to effectively punish such violators, even though companies were required to call into a statewide 811 service to notify officials of an impending excavation. Now, they will be able to levy financial penalties against those who do not, from $1,250 for a first violation, up to $2,000 for a second, and up to $4,000 for each subsequent offense.
“The new law brings Kentucky into line with federal standards, which the PSC enforces under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation,” PSC Chairman Michael Schmitt said. “More importantly, it is an effort to significantly improve public safety by reducing the unacceptably high number of dangerous dig-in incidents involving natural gas pipelines.”
The PSC noted that in 2017, more than 1,200 incidents of gas lines damaged by excavations occurred. Many of these were because companies failed to call the 811 line beforehand. Around 240 organizations operate natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines in Kentucky.
Operators, homeowners, and excavators will be eligible for punishment under the new system.
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