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Delaware excavator fined more than $40,000 for puncturing high-pressure gas line in Weston

Delaware excavator fined more than $40,000 for puncturing high-pressure gas line in Weston

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Wisconsin regulators have fined a Delaware contractor more than $40,000 for violating state pipeline safety rules after excavators punctured a high-pressure gas line in a residential area of Marathon County.

According to a Public Service Commission investigation, Sunnyworld LLC was drilling near an apartment complex in Weston on Sept. 11, 2019, when a boring tool struck a TC Energy gas line.

No one was injured, but firefighters had to evacuate nearby homes while utility workers shut off the pipeline.

The PSC determined that TC Energy marked the pipeline location 13 days earlier with flags mounted on six-foot plastic poles and warned the contractor to stay at least 25 feet away. Sunnyworld claimed there were no flags or markings when its workers arrived.

State law requires pipeline operators to mark locations in a “reasonable manner” but does not specify the method.

An administrative law judge determined Sunnyworld, which is not registered to do business in Wisconsin, violated pipeline safety laws by digging too close to the unmarked line and “demonstrated callous disregard for the one-call system enforcement process” by failing to respond to violation notices.

However, the judge noted that TC Energy could have done more to mark its pipeline and recommended the fine be cut in half.

The PSC voted unanimously Thursday to approve the $37,500 penalty plus a $3,750 surcharge.

Sunnyworld did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.


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