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BILL AS PASSED HOUSE AND SENATE 2007-2008

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H.290

AN ACT RELATING TO THE VERMONT DIG SAFE PROGRAM AND THE FEDERAL GAS PIPELINE SAFETY PROGRAM

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  30 V.S.A. § 7001(4) is amended and (11), (12), (13), and (14) are added to read:

(4)  “Excavation activities” means activities involving the removal of earth, rock or other materials in the ground, disturbing the subsurface of the earth, or the demolition of any structure, by the discharge of explosives or the use of powered or mechanized equipment, including but not limited to digging, trenching, blasting, boring, drilling, hammering, post driving, wrecking, razing, or tunneling, within 100 feet of an underground utility facility.  Excavation activities shall not include the tilling of the soil for agricultural purposes, routine home gardening with hand tools outside easement areas and public rights-of-way, activities relating to routine public highway maintenance, or the use of hand tools by a company, or the company’s agent or a contractor working under the agent’s direction, to locate or service the company’s facilities, provided the company has a written damage prevention program.

(11)  “Powered or mechanized equipment” means equipment that is powered or energized by any motor, engine, or hydraulic or pneumatic device and that is used for excavation or demolition work.

(12)  “Hand tools” means tools powered solely by human energy.

(13)  “Verified” means the location and depth have seen physically determined by hand digging.

(14)  “Damage prevention program” means a program established to ensure employees involved in excavation activities are aware of and utilize appropriate and safe excavating practices.

Sec. 2.  30 V.S.A. § 7004(e) is added to read:

(e)  Notice of excavation activities shall be valid for an excavation site until one of the following occurs:

(1)  The excavation is not completed within 30 days of the notification;

(2)  The markings become faded, illegible, or destroyed; or

(3)  The company installs new underground facilities in a marked area still under excavation.

Sec. 3.  30 V.S.A. § 7006b is amended to read:

§ 7006b.  EXCAVATION AREA PRECAUTIONS

Any person engaged in excavating activities in the approximate location of underground utility facilities marked pursuant to section 7006 of this title shall take reasonable precautions to avoid damage to underground utility facilities, including but not limited to any substantial weakening of the structural or lateral support of such facilities or penetration, severance or destruction of such facilities.  When excavation activities involve horizontal or directional boring, the person engaged in excavation activities shall expose underground facilities to verify their location and depth, in a safe manner, at each location where the work crosses will cross a facility and at reasonable intervals when paralleling an underground facility.  Powered or mechanized equipment may only be used within the approximate location where the facilities have been verified.

Sec. 4.  30 V.S.A. § 7008 is amended to read:

§ 7008.  PENALTIES

(a)  Vermont Digsafe Program.  Any person or company who violates any provisions of sections 7004, 7006, 7006a, 7006b, or 7007 of this title shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000.00 not more than $500.00 for the first offense, not more than $1,000.00 for the second offense within one year of the date of the first offense, not more than $1,500.00 for the third offense within one year of the first offense, and not more than $5,000.00 for the fourth or subsequent offense within one year of the date of a previous offense, in addition to any other remedies or penalties provided by law or any liability for actual damages.  For the purposes of this subsection, “the date of the first offense” means the date on which the violation occurred, not the date on which the adjudication of the offense resulted.

(b)  Any company which does not mark the location of its underground facilities as required by section 7006 or 7006a of this title shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000.00.

* * *

(e)  Any person who violates any provisions of sections 7004 through 7007 of this title as to an underground gas distribution or transmission facility shall also be subject to the civil penalties described in section 2816 of this title.  However, a person who has been assessed a civil penalty pursuant to section 2816 of this title shall not be subject to the payment of an assessed penalty under the provisions of this section for the same violation.

Sec. 5.  APPEAL PROCESS FOR PENALTIES FOR UNDERGROUND

              UTILITY DAMAGE PREVENTION SYSTEM VIOLATIONS

The department of public service, in collaboration with the public service board and companies and contractors using the underground utility damage prevention system, shall develop a streamlined appeal process before an independent adjudicator for the purpose of appealing fines assessed pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 7008(a). 

Sec. 6.  30 V.S.A. § 2816(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Gas Pipeline Safety Program.  Any person who violates any statute, rule, regulation, or order of the public service board relating to safety standards or safety practices applicable to transportation of gas through gas pipeline facilities subject to the jurisdiction of the public service board is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000.00 $100,000.00 for each violation for each day that the violation persists.  However, the maximum civil penalty shall not exceed $500,000.00 $1,000,000.00 for any related series of violations.  The penalty may be imposed by the board after notice to the offending person of the alleged violations and opportunity for hearing.

Sec. 7.  REPEAL

30 V.S.A. § 7004(d)(2) is repealed January 1, 2010.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us