California: Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Excavation Bill Signed into Law

On Sept. 29, a bill was signed into law that establishes tougher safety procedures for excavation work that is conducted near high-risk pipelines carrying flammable fuels such as gasoline and natural gas. The legislation was inspired by the Nov. 9, 2004, pipeline excavation accident at a construction site in Walnut Creek, Calif., that killed five workers.

Among the bill’s requirements:

  • If an excavation is within 10 feet of a “high-priority subsurface installation,” the operator of the pipeline installation must notify the excavator of the installation and hold an onsite meeting to verify the location of the installation.
  • Only a “qualified person” – one who has completed a safety training program that meets the requirements of California law – is allowed to conduct “subsurface installation locating activities.”
  • A regional notification center must provide the excavator with the pipeline operator’s contact information, and the excavator must notify the pipeline operator – or call 9-1-1 – when the excavator discovers or causes damage to the pipeline installation.