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Fargo construction firm fined $7,000 for excavation violations

A Fargo construction firm has been fined $7,100 for violating North Dakota’s “One Call” law.

The Public Service Commission agreed to suspend $1,000 of the fine levied against KPH, because it was the first offense. KPH was charged with “failure to conduct excavations in a prudent manner.”

Xcel Energy reported seven separate violations, where 5/8 inch natural gas lines were hit, along with one 2 inch line, and one underground power line. This happened in Fargo.

"Part of the North Dakota 'One Call' law is that you hand-dig 24 inches on either side of where the facility is marked," said PSC Chairman Brian Kroshus. That’s done to determine how deep the facilities are under the surface.

"A lot of times, what companies are doing is 'pot-holing,' and hand-digging down in certain locations, determining the depth of the line from that, and then doing the same thing 10-15 feet over," Kroshus said. "Based on that, they will excavate on the top."

Kroshus said that's where the problem occurs.

"Line depths may vary," Kroshus said.

Kroshus said that’s what caused the damage to those lines. He said contractors have to hand-dig along the entire length of the marked excavation area.

"That takes time," Kroshus said. "It takes additional money, and people manually doing the labor. I understand that, because you're under contract and trying to get a project done on time, you're trying to move fast and safely at the same time. But that is a requirement."

Kroshus said KPH was very good to work with, in reaching a consent agreement with PSC staff.

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