INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has issued
$180,000 in fines against three of the state's largest natural gas
companies for safety violations involving underground pipelines.
The commission said Thursday the fines stemmed from Northern Indiana
Public Service Co., Vectren and Citizens Gas not following procedures or
keeping accurate pipeline records, which resulted in pipeline locations
either being misidentified or not found as required under the state's
"Call Before You Dig" laws.
Commission officials started the safety review after the 2010 gas pipeline
explosion in San Bruno, Calif., that destroyed 38 houses and killed eight
"It's still being discussed to this day, both at the federal level and by
the states, to make sure that what happened there doesn't happen anywhere
else," IURC spokeswoman Danielle McGrath told the Evansville Courier &
The commission's order levied $75,000 fines against both Vectren and
NIPSCO and $30,000 against Citizens Gas. It also directs the utilities to
fix the violations.
Vectren spokeswoman Chase Kelley said the company will thoroughly review
the IURC's order, then determine its next course of action.
"We take compliance with state and federal pipeline regulations very
seriously," Kelley said.
Twenty-five pipe location incidents involved Vectren. Kelley said the
company responds to more than 400,000 gas pipeline location requests each
year in its Indiana and Ohio service areas.
For NIPSCO, commission officials found 19 occasions where workers damaged
pipes while digging because they weren't able to locate them and six cases
were pipelines were damaged because of mapping issues, The Times of
NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer said the company wouldn't appeal the state
order, including the fines.
"NIPSCO has upgraded its systems and internal procedures to improve
performance in responding to locate requests received throughout the year,
and will continue to investigate and implement further measures to reduce
pipeline damages," he said.
In the Citizens Gas case, the commission found eight instances of
excavation damage caused by mismarked pipelines.
A Citizens Gas spokeswoman said the company was reviewing the IURC's order
and is committed to having a safe delivery system.
Evansville-based Vectren has about 680,000 natural gas customers in
southern and central Indiana, while Merrillville-based NIPSCO provides gas
to nearly 790,000 homes and businesses across the northern third of the
state. Citizens Gas has some 265,000 customers in and around Indianapolis.