A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT REWRITING THE LAWS REGULATING UNDERGROUND UTILITY DAMAGE PREVENTION.
Repeals Article 8 (Underground Damage Prevention) of GS Chapter 87.
Enacts new Article 8A (Underground Utility Safety and Damage Prevention Act) of GS Chapter 87. Provides that the act supersedes and preempts any city or county ordinance (1) requiring operators to obtain city or county permits to identify facilities; (2) requiring pre-marking or marking of facilities; (3) specifying the types of paint or other marking devices that are used to identify facilities; or (4) requiring removal of unexpired marks, which will be the responsibility of the city or county. Defines a facility as an underground line, underground system, or underground infrastructure used for producing, storing, conveying, transmitting, identifying, locating, or distributing communication, electricity, gas, petroleum, petroleum products, hazardous liquids, water, steam, or sewage. Prohibits costs or expenses associated with an excavator's compliance with the Article from being charged to an operator and prevents the operator's costs or expenses of compliance from being charged to any excavator. Prohibits the Notification Center from imposing charges.
Requires the operators (any person, public utility, communications or cable service provider, municipality, electrical utility, or electric or telephone cooperative that owns or operates a facility in the state) to maintain a Notification Center (Center) to provide services required in the Article and to join the Center and use the Center's services to perform required acts. Sets deadlines for joining the Center based on the entity's number of customers. Sets the Center's duties and responsibilities, including establishing and operating a damage prevention training program for members. Requires the Center to receive notice from persons intending to excavate or demolish in the state and to transmit specified information to the appropriate operator.
Establishes information that the operator must provide to the excavator and specifies timelines by which the information must be provided. Sets out further provider responsibilities including preparing installation records for facilities installed in a public street, alley, or right-of-way dedicated to public use. Requires facilities installed on or after the effective date of the Article to be electronically locatable. Allows an operator to reject an excavation or demolition notice due to homeland security considerations.
Establishes excavator responsibilities, including providing notice to the Center of the intent to excavate or demolish. Provides timing requirements for different types of notice. Sets out information that must be included in the notices. Requires excavators to comply with 10 specific requirements including confirming a positive response system through the System before excavation or demolition that all operators have responded and that all facilities affected have been marked, planning the excavation or demolition to avoid damage or minimize interference with facilitates, and giving the operator a reasonable time in which to remove or protect the operator's facilities before demolition commences.
Sets out exemptions from the notice requirements. Provides for notification to the Center in the case of emergency excavation or demolitions. Makes it a Class 3 misdemeanor to falsely claim that an emergency exists requiring an excavation or demolition.
Requires that notice be given upon discovering damage to a facility. Provides for notification in the instance of damage resulting in the discharge of electricity or the escape of any flammable, toxic, or corrosive gas or liquid.
Allows designers to submit design notice to the Center. Requires a response in a specified manner within 15 working days.
Provides that if an operator has been given notice by the Center and fails to respond or properly locate the facility, the person excavating may proceed with the excavation.
Provides for civil penalties not to exceed $2,500 for each violation of the article. Includes other provisions concerning civil remedies. Includes a severability clause.
Effective October 1, 2014, and applies to all activities regulated by Article 8A, as enacted by the act, that occur on or after that date.
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