CenturyLink ordered to pay $2.25M for violating state law on underground lines

The telecoms provider failed to mark the location of its underground lines.
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CenturyLink will pay out $2.25 million as part of a settlement for violating state law regarding underground lines.

The payment will be paid to the Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety (MNOPS), after the company was found to be "repeatedly violating a state law" in 2019 that requires it to mark the location of its underground telecommunications lines.

This is required so that workers can dig without hitting gas, water, internet and other underground lines, with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety that CenturyLink's lack of marking came during the 2019 digging and construction season, and in some cases forced work crews to abandon jobs.

The MNOPS said it started investigating complaints that CenturyLink wasn't responding to marking requests from excavation and construction companies in April 2019, and was found to be violating the state's One-Call Law.

"This was unacceptable and our ultimate goal is for it to never happen again,” said MNOPS Director and State Fire Marshal Jim Smith in a press release Friday.

"CenturyLink has an important job to do and we want them to do it successfully to help us keep Minnesotans and the people who work and visit here safe.

"The One-Call Law exists in Minnesota to keep everyone safe. CenturyLink, like any other utility or excavating company, is required to comply with the law and we expect they will continue to do so."

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As part of the settlement, CenturyLink will pay MNOPS $2.25 million and pay a further $750,000 if it fails to comply with a series of stipulations.

This includes responding to 90 percent of utility-locate requests on time over the next 2 years, and order that will be extended by a further year if more than one CenturyLink comms line is damaged per 1,000 locates in two consecutive months.

It must also develop a damage prevention program and a quality assurance and quality control program.

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