Page 8 - Alabama 811 Magazine 2022 Issue 2
P. 8

Enforcement in Alabama
Enforcement had been “inadequate”
in the previous version of the law.
The enforcement authority rested with the Attorney General’s office
and the county District Attorneys. Except for one instance prior to 2019, neither had the time or manpower to prosecute offenders of the old damage prevention law. The new law created the “Alabama Underground Damage Prevention Authority” (ALUDPA) as the enforcement authority. This new “Authority” was tasked with creating a system to promote enforcement within the excavating community of Alabama.
How does this work? The law is listed on the website and can be accessed by anyone. The make-up of the “Authority” is listed, as well as the penalty provisions,
the complaint process and a list of resources available to the public. The online complaint form is located at
Each quarter (April, July, October,
and January) the Administrator of
the “Authority” sends the complaints and any responses received to the “Authority’s” Executive Committee for review. This Executive Committee is comprised of 5 members of the full ALUDPA Board. These members determine if a penalty (training and/
or fines) are suitable for the alleged offender of the damage prevention law, or if the complaint should be dismissed.
Through the 3rd Quarter of 2021, eighty-seven (87) violations had been submitted for penalty review. Of these, fifty-two (52) were deemed as subject to the penalty provisions, fifteen violations were dismissed, and the rest are awaiting further review. These statistics are available on the website under the “Dashboard” tab at the top
of the page. As of the end of May,
there have been two hundred seventy- two (272) complaints filed with the ALUDPA, one hundred forty-four (144) in 2021 and one hundred twenty-eight (128) in 2022. But is this enough? Is this doing anything to improve damage prevention in Alabama? Only time will tell. The system has not been operating long enough yet to make any viable determinations. And more education needs to be done throughout the state to make this a valuable tool for damage prevention. Too many people are still unaware of the ALUDPA, the entire enforcement process and how to submit possible violations.
The complaint process is not a tool
to vent frustrations when not getting the timely response you would like
for your locate requests. There are a limited number of locating personnel. If they are overloaded with work,
there are going to be delays. Hiring additional personnel and training them to accurately locate the underground facilities is a costly and time-consuming process. Yes, we all have a job to do and most want to get it done in a safe manner. There are some, however, who want to get the job done more quickly than the workload allows. This is when common sense should prevail and an attitude of working together
for the betterment of all should be
the order of the day. Let’s work safely and smarter to get our jobs done and improve Alabama and the underground infrastructure we all need and want.
Yes, we all have a job to do and most want to get it done in a safe manner.
by Wallace Jones
Director, Gas Pipeline Safety Alabama Public Service Commission
Many stakeholders worked countless hours prior to the 2019 Alabama Legislative Session to formulate a
plan to improve damage prevention in Alabama. Those hours of hard work ultimately paid tremendous dividends as Alabama is now considered “adequate” in damage prevention by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Prior to the last PHMSA audit in 2021, Alabama
had been deemed “inadequate” each
year since the audits began. These audits look at various aspects of a
state’s damage prevention program,
such as exemptions to the damage prevention law, mandatory membership in the state’s locating system, ease of submitting locate requests, having a central data bank to manage these requests, and enforcement. Two of the big hurdles Alabama had to overcome were mandatory membership and enforcement. These hurdles have been eliminated and Alabama is moving forward in the damage prevention arena.
the top of the home screen. This
form is used when someone believes
the damage prevention law has been broken, possibly by someone not calling for a line locate prior to excavation; when the underground lines weren’t located at all or were not located within the prescribed time frame; or when someone did not use due diligence while excavating on top of the locate marks. There is also a response form for those who wish to “tell their side of the story” if they believe the complaint has been filed incorrectly. Those accused of a violation can submit
their own views of what took place
as well as upload any evidence they might have to support their claim.
They have 14 days from the date they receive the complaint to file a response.
6 • Alabama 811 2022, Issue 2

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