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The Underground Utility Damage and Safety Act
On August 29, 2018, Senate Bill 189, which relates to the Underground Utility Damage and Safety Act was signed into law. A few years ago the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) evaluated Delaware to be inadequate in its compliance with 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 198, Subpart D- State Damage Prevention Enforcement Programs. This finding provided the State with 5 years to correct any deficiencies in its program, or PHMSA would assume the role of enforcing 49 CFR Part 196- Protection of Underground Pipelines From Excavation Activity. Since the non-compliance finding, staff members of the Delaware Public Service Commission have been working to pass legislation which would bring Delaware into compliance and create a safer environment for utilities, excavators, and citizens of this state.
  

This legislation was the first step toward compliance and requires the Operators of underground facilities, except Operators of underground gas pipeline facilities, to notify the Public Service Commission of any excavation damage of which they are aware when the damage exceeds $3000 in value. For Operators of underground gas pipeline facilities, they must notify the Public Service Commission for all excavation damages to their facilities, regardless of the value of the damage. It also provides for the Public Service Commission to review the violation and to assess penalties that are consistent with the circumstances and gravity of the violation.
 

  

What this bill does?


  1. Creates a notification process if an underground utility line is damaged
  2. Allows the PSC to assess penalties for damaged lines or refer to the Attorney General’s Office depending on the circumstance and gravity of the violation.
  3. Allows anyone (including excavators) to report a violation of Delaware’s Underground Utility Damage Prevention and Safety Act to the Public Service Commission

 

Why this bill?


  1. Strengthens public safety by creating a record of utility line strikes
  2. Allows PSC or Attorney General’s office to hold violators accountable
  3. Ensures that the Delaware PSC maintains oversight of gas pipeline damage prevention in Delaware, as opposed to Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) taking over that part of the program

 

Report Underground Utility Damgage


  


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