HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. -- Indiana-based cable and internet provider MetroNet is back to work in Hamilton County with new, updated safety procedures.
MetroNet has resumed underground construction in Westfield and has the green light to work in Zionsville as well.
MetroNet and its subcontractors were investigated by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission amid 20 reports of damage to gas lines in Fishers and Carmel.
IURC is also investigating a September 8 Westfield incident, and regulators believe the natural gas seeped into the sewer systems which is “extremely dangerous and often leads to explosions, with injuries and loss of life,” read a scathing report.
Following the gas line strikes, Fishers, Carmel and Westfield all ordered MetroNet and its contractors to stop digging.
MetroNet has since met with numerous city and state officials to assure them of their updated procedures.
A few of the enhancements to MetroNet’s safety plan:
- They require all contractors to provide documentation regarding their weekly safety training programs.
- They require all construction project managers and engineers to participate in the Safe Dig Indiana training sponsored by the IURC or similar training.
- They formed a Safety Committee of senior executives that reviews safety performance and strike reports.
- They added a position to their existing safety team, Director of Safety and Quality Assurance, to focus on safe excavation and construction practices.
- They are increasing participation in industry groups such as Indiana Damage Prevention Council, Common Ground Alliance, and IURC Pipeline Safety Stakeholder Group.
MetroNet and its contractors are not yet allowed to get back to work in Carmel and Fishers.
Fishers is working on a final agreement with Metronet to ensure safe practices are upheld.
Carmel has hired an attorney to negotiate conditions before MetroNet is allowed to resume work in the city.
The Indiana Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against five of MetroNet’s excavators accused of performing work without proper authorization.
Curtis Hill’s office filed suit in Hamilton County on October 16 against Crosier Lane Consulting (Illinois), International, Inc. (Michigan), Nexgen Directional (Illinois), RC Underground (Florida) and RLM Underground (Kansas).
Curtis Hill’s office filed the lawsuit “to ensure compliance with the law” and is seeking a civil penalty in each case of up to $10,000.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit relates only to the licensing status of the excavators, and is not connected to pipeline damage caused by the contractors.
MetroNet contractors could face varying amounts of fines of up to $10,000 for the gas line hits.
A state committee has recommended warning letters for RC Underground and Nexgen, a warning letter and mandatory training for Crosier Lane Consulting and Radical Concepts/Palindrome, and $13,500 in civil penalties for International Inc.
The committee also recommended $6,000 in civil penalties for gas company Vectren, who was also found responsible for some of the gas line strikes.
The full Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has not yet approved the penalties for the gas line strikes.