/Breaking state digging law now has consequences

Breaking state digging law now has consequences

These penalties and fines range from $500 to $5,000. Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2755 into law on May 13. Phil Bryant outlines the penalties Mississippians will face if they don’t comply with state code regarding digging around underground utilities lines and other elements. Private residents, contractors, builders, and excavators who plan to drill, blast or dig on private property are required to notify Mississippi 811 before they do so as to avoid damage to underground utilities or abruptly interrupting vital public services. Mississippi 811 receives a call and notifies affected utilities companies. They then send a representative to the dig site in order to identify underground lines and facilities so that they can be avoided. Beginning July 1, state lawmakers approved the imposition of fines or penalties for residents who don’t comply with this procedure. The violator must take a training course to comply with the law for a first offense. A second offense within a five year period will result in a training course, or a $500 fine per incident. A third offense within a five year period can result in a $2,500 fine per incident. Malicious acts with intent to damage underground cables would lead to a $5,000 per incident training course. Sam Johnson, president and CEO of Mississippi 811 said that this is a new deal. “The law that requires people call before digging has been in place for years… We have never faced any penalties or fines.” This is what this is all about. The state of Mississippi being allowed to initiate them rather than the federal government,” said Terry Burton, R-Newton. According to the federal government, penalties were needed for anyone who would damage pipelines below the ground. Burton stated that the bill was necessary to prevent the federal government from imposing more restrictions and regulations. “As long we have something in law, we feel the federal government pipeline safety approach (will let us do our thing and do it my way rather than paying heavy fines at federal level,” Johnson stated. The new law allows Mississippi to have a reasonable training process and fines as opposed to the federal government imposing a fine of up to $200,000 per violation per day. Johnson stated that Mississippi 811’s call volume increased by 20% between Jan. 1 and now, compared to last year. Johnson stated that some of this is due to the fact the law is being passed or has been passed, as well as the new projects in the state. A Board to prevent underground facilities from being damaged will be created by the law. The law will exempt certain routine maintenance activities from underground utility line excavation laws. To support this important work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today.