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UTC Fines Two Utility Companies in First Use of “Dig Law”
Violations led to underground utility damage
OLYMPIA Wash. – The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) announced Thursday it had fined two companies for failing to locate and mark the presence of underground utilities before contractors began digging, resulting in damaged facilities.
The financial penalties were the first under a law passed by the 2011 Legislature. The Underground Utilities Damage Prevention Act (Act) took effect in 2013. The law requires companies to mark their underground utilities within two business days of receiving a request from the 811 Call Before You Dig program.
The UTC fined Pacific Power and Light Company $1,000 for failing to mark underground utilities before work commenced on a sewer main project in Yakima on Jan. 9, 2013. Because of that failure, an excavating contractor damaged electrical conduits and cables owned by the power company.
In a second action, the UTC fined Frontier Communications Northwest, Inc., $1,000 for its failure to mark the presence of underground communication equipment before excavation commenced in Everett on April 25, 2013. The excavation resulted in damage to a Frontier telecommunication facility.
The companies have 15 days to do one of the following: pay the amount due, request a hearing to contest the violations, or request mitigation of the penalty.
The Act charges the UTC with enforcement of violations of the dig law, which are brought forward by the state’s Dig Law Safety Committee. All penalties collected will be put into a damage prevention account and used for educational outreach designed to improve worker and public safety related to excavation and underground facilities.
The UTC regulates the rates and services of telecommunications companies, investor-owned electric utilities, natural gas and water companies, garbage-collection haulers, household-goods movers and charter-bus companies, commercial ferries, pipeline companies, and a low-level radioactive waste repository.