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SB-297 Subsurface installations: penalties.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 03/25/2021 09:00 PM
SB297:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  March 25, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  March 15, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 297


Introduced by Senator Durazo

February 03, 2021


An act to amend Section 4216.6 of the Government Code, relating to subsurface installations.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 297, as amended, Durazo. Subsurface installations: penalties.
Existing law regulates excavations around subsurface installations, which are defined as any underground pipeline, conduit, duct, wire, or other structure, excepting certain nonpressurized lines, including sewerlines. Existing law generally requires an operator of a subsurface installation to become a member of, participate in, and share in the costs of a regional notification center. In this context, a “regional notification center” is a nonprofit association or organization of operators of subsurface installations that provide advance warning of excavations or other work close to subsurface installations for the purpose of protecting those installations. Existing law prescribes civil penalties for violations of provisions relating to subsurface installations in amounts not to exceed $10,000 for negligent violations and not to exceed $50,000 for knowing and willful violations. Existing law authorizes the Attorney General, or the state or local agency that issued an excavation permit, to bring actions for the enforcement of these penalties. Existing law also authorizes other agencies, including the Public Utilities Commission, to enforce these provisions in connection with specified activities and jurisdictions, and with regard to these enforcement activities, existing law requires the deposit of any penalties collected into the Safe Energy Infrastructure and Excavation Fund. Moneys in that fund are available upon appropriation by the Legislature for specified purposes, including education and outreach.
This bill would enact the Wade Kilpatrick Gas Safety and Workforce Adequacy Act of 2021. The bill would prescribe new penalties applicable to excavators that fail to provide notice to a gas corporation of the need to locate and mark subsurface installations, or that commence excavation before a gas corporation marks subsurface installations, and then damage a subsurface installation. In this regard, the bill would authorize the imposition of a civil penalty of up to $100,000. The bill would condition the application of these penalties on the excavator having had previous penalties, previous failures to provide notice, or previous instances of beginning excavation before subsurface installations are marked, as specified. a civil penalty of up to $100,000 to be imposed on an operator or excavator, as described above, who knowingly and willfully violates provisions relating excavations and subsurface installations and subsequently damages a gas or hazardous liquid pipeline subsurface installation and the damage results in the escape of any flammable, toxic, or corrosive gas or liquid.

This bill would also require that all moneys collected from the imposition of the above-described penalties be deposited into the Safe Energy Infrastructure and Excavation Fund.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 This act shall be known, and may be cited, as the Wade Kilpatrick Gas Safety and Workforce Adequacy Act of 2021.

SEC. 2.

 Section 4216.6 of the Government Code is amended to read:

4216.6.
 (a) (1) Any operator or excavator who negligently violates this article is subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
(2) Any operator or excavator who knowingly and willfully violates any of the provisions of this article is subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).
(3) Any operator or excavator that fails to provide notice to a gas corporation of the need to locate and mark its subsurface installations, or that commences excavation before a gas corporation marks its subsurface installations, who knowingly and willfully violates any of the provisions of this article and subsequently damages a gas or hazardous liquid pipeline subsurface installation in which the damage results in the escape of any flammable, toxic, or corrosive gas or liquid is subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).The penalties prescribed by this paragraph shall apply if either of the following conditions are true:

(A)The excavator was penalized pursuant to paragraph (1) or (2) in the five years before an incident to which this paragraph applies.

(B)An investigation demonstrates that the excavator has two or more previous instances of either of the following:

(i)Failing to provide notice to a gas corporation to locate and mark its subsurface installations when it is required to do so.

(ii)Commencing excavation before a gas corporation marks its subsurface installations.

(4) Except as otherwise specifically provided in this article, this section is not intended to affect any civil remedies otherwise provided by law for personal injury or for property damage, including any damage to subsurface installations, nor is this section intended to create any new civil remedies for those injuries or that damage.
(5) This article shall not be construed to limit any other provision of law granting governmental immunity to state or local agencies or to impose any liability or duty of care not otherwise imposed by law upon any state or local agency.
(b) An action may be brought by the Attorney General, the district attorney, or the local or state agency that issued the permit to excavate, for the enforcement of the civil penalty pursuant to this section in a civil action brought in the name of the people of the State of California. If penalties are collected as a result of a civil suit brought by a state or local agency for collection of those civil penalties, the penalties imposed shall be paid to the general fund of the agency. If more than one agency is involved in enforcement, the penalties imposed shall be apportioned among them by the court in a manner that will fairly offset the relative costs incurred by the state or local agencies, or both, in collecting these fees.
(c) This article may also be enforced by the following agencies, either following a recommendation of the Dig Safe Board that the agency shall act to accept, amend, or reject, or through the agency’s own investigations, as follows:
(1) The Registrar of Contractors of the Contractors State License Board shall enforce this article on contractors, as defined in Article 2 (commencing with Section 7025) of Chapter 9 of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code, and telephone corporations, as defined in Section 234 of the Public Utilities Code, when acting as a contractor, as defined in Article 2 (commencing with Section 7025) of Chapter 9 of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code. Nothing in this section affects the Public Utilities Commission’s existing authority over a public utility.
(2) The Public Utilities Commission shall enforce this article on gas corporations, as defined in Section 222 of the Public Utilities Code, and electrical corporations, as defined in Section 218 of the Public Utilities Code, and water corporations, as defined in Section 241 of the Public Utilities Code.
(3) The Office of the State Fire Marshal shall enforce this article on operators of hazardous liquid pipeline facilities, as defined in Section 60101 of Chapter 601 of Subtitle VIII of Title 49 of the United States Code.
(d) A local governing board may enforce this article on local agencies under the governing board’s jurisdiction.
(e) Commencing July 1, 2020, the Dig Safe Board shall enforce this article on persons other than those listed in subdivisions (c) and (d). The board shall not initiate an enforcement action pursuant to this subdivision for a violation that occurred prior to July 1, 2020. As the enforcing body for persons other than those listed in subdivisions (c) and (d), the board may collect any monetary penalties imposed upon those persons.
(f) Moneys collected as a result of penalties imposed that are described in subdivision (a) pursuant to subdivisions (c) and (e) shall be deposited into the Safe Energy Infrastructure and Excavation Fund.
(g) Statewide information provided by operators and excavators regarding incident events shall be compiled and made available in an annual report by regional notification centers and posted on the internet websites of the regional notification centers and shall be made available to the board upon request.
(h) For purposes of subdivision (g), the following terms have the following meanings:
(1) “Incident event” means the occurrence of excavator downtime, damages, near misses, and violations.
(2) “Statewide information” means information submitted by operators and excavators using the California Regional Common Ground Alliance’s Virtual Private Damage Information Reporting Tool. Supplied data shall comply with the Damage Information Reporting Tool’s minimum essential information as listed in the most recent version of the Best Practices guide of the Common Ground Alliance.