Emergency excavation notification requirements advance

Senators gave first-round approval April 10 to a bill that would amend the One Call notification provisions for natural gas utility operators.

Great Plains One Call Service is a system used by excavators to identify and locate underground facilities prior to excavation to protect the facilities from damage. A notice to the service center currently is required prior to performing an excavation or bar test survey.

Syracuse Sen. Dan Watermeier introduced LB589, which would exempt gas operators, pipeline facilities and excavators from the notification requirements if they are performing excavations or bar test surveys in response to an emergency gas or hazardous liquid leak. The bill also would provide immunity from civil penalties, except from strict liability for damage caused by either the bar testing or the repair excavation.

The service center may take up to two days to respond to a notification, Watermeier said, but emergency leaks may be dangerous and require immediate action.

Watermeier offered an amendment, adopted 25-0, that would require the operator to give such notice prior to an emergency excavation, but a facility location response would not be required to begin or continue excavation.

The bill advanced from general file on a 25-0 vote.

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