Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo introduced a resolution to the Los Angeles City Council on June 30, 2020, in support of Senate Bill 297 (SB 297) authored by California State Senator Maria Elena Durazo. The bill calls for increased civil penalties to excavators who damage underground utility infrastructure and fail to follow proper safety protocols, including calling 811 – a free service that connects excavators with the Underground Service Alert, which notifies utility companies about planned excavations so they can mark their underground infrastructure and prevent accidental damages.
The legislation, which recently passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee, is named after Wade Kilpatrick, a SoCalGas worker who was tragically killed in July 2019 while repairing a damaged natural gas pipeline. Reports indicate a contractor failed to call 811, began digging at a Murrieta, CA home and damaged a gas pipeline.
“Dig-ins represent a common and preventable problem with significant safety and environmental impacts. My legislation, SB 297 is a common-sense solution that prioritizes safety, reliability and sustainability while prescribing new penalties to discourage contractors and others from damaging gas and other infrastructure,” added State Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles). “Thank you to Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Monica Rodriguez for bringing further attention and support to this important issue.”
“It’s a tragedy that a SoCalGas worker was killed because a contractor either wasn’t aware or failed to make a simple telephone call,” stated Councilmember Gil Cedillo. “It’s equally frustrating that these incidents occur almost daily in the Los Angeles area. There’s a 99% chance that no damage will occur to a buried pipeline or other utility if this call is made.”
“SB 297 will add additional measures to prevent repeat offenders from negligently hitting buried gas lines which will result in fewer unnecessary vented methane, and most importantly help keep our workers and communities safer. That’s what the Wade Kilpatrick Gas Safety Act is for, and Wade Kilpatrick, his family, and all of his Union brothers and sisters are who it is for.” -Eric Hofmann, President UWUA Local 132 AFL-CIO.
“Buried gas, electric and water lines can present a hidden danger to people digging unless they’re properly marked. These lines are often located in streets making them easy to strike and cause damage during excavations,” said Jimmie Cho, chief operating officer at SoCalGas. “With a simple call to 811 before excavation work begins, there’s a 99% chance that no damage will occur to a buried pipeline or other utility.”
According to the Common Ground Alliance, in 2019, there were more than 9,600 incidents in California where underground facilities were accidentally damaged due to excavations. In 46% of those incidents, 811 was not notified prior to excavation. These dig-in incidents are entirely preventable if contractors, excavators and the public call before any digging occurs.
The Cedillo motion was referred to the Los Angeles City Council’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.