HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. -- The Indiana Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against five out-of-state excavators accused of performing work without proper authorization.
Curtis Hill’s office filed suit in Hamilton County on October 16 against Crosier Lane Consulting (Illinois), International, Inc. (Michigan), Nexgen Directional (Illinois), RC Underground (Florida) and RLM Underground (Kansas).
The Attorney General’s actions come after state regulators released a scathing report , criticizing Indiana-based cable and internet provider MetroNet and its subcontractors for hitting gas lines in Hamilton County.
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission launched an investigation after 20 reports of damage to gas lines in Fishers and Carmel.
IURC’s Pipeline Safety Division blamed MetroNet’s excavators for 10 of the gas line incidents.
Five of MetroNet’s contractors failed to properly register with the Indiana Secretary of State, records show.
Curtis Hill’s office filed the lawsuit “to ensure compliance with the law” and is seeking a civil penalty in each case of up to $10,000.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit relates only to the licensing status of the excavators, and is not connected to pipeline damage caused by the contractors.
MetroNet contractors could face varying amounts of fines of up to $10,000 for the gas line hits.
A state committee has recommended warning letters for RC Underground and Nexgen, a warning letter and mandatory training for Crosier Lane Consulting and Radical Concepts/Palindrome, and $13,500 in civil penalties for International Inc.
The committee also recommended $6,000 in civil penalties for gas company Vectren, who was also found responsible for some of the gas line strikes.
The full Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has not yet approved the penalties for the gas line strikes.
No-dig orders are still in place in Fishers, Carmel and Westfield for MetroNet.
MetroNet issued this response to the IURC report:
“MetroNet takes the IURC’s findings about our contractors seriously, and we support any efforts to improve underground construction, as our goal is always to protect public safety,” said John Cinelli, president of MetroNet. “As a result, we are voluntarily pausing all underground construction in Central Indiana while we conduct further contractor training. We are committed to providing a world-class fiber optic infrastructure in Indiana, and building it in a responsible manner.”
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