Page 9 - Alabama 811 Magazine
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  Legislative Corner
Alabama’s Underground Damage Prevention legislation has been enacted since 1994. Over the years there have been amendments to strengthen and improve the damage prevention program in our state. We will focus
on some of the key terms and sections to ensure a thorough understanding of the underground damage prevention as outlined in Alabama state law.
In the original legislation passed in 1994, the Alabama code outlined the defined colors that should be used by underground facility owners when marking their facilities prior to excavation activities. These defined colors assist excavators in knowing the approximate location of the facilities and which facilities are located there based on the color used. Over the years, the Alabama law was revised to reference the American Public Works Association (APWA) color codes. The APWA, for years, has been the “keeper” of the unified color code for facility markings across the United States. Alabama revised the language for the APWA color code to assist with consistency in marking colors, especially for those who work in multiple states. In addition, as the APWA Code is updated, it does not require a revision of the Alabama law to stay current.
In the definition section of the statute “Mark or Marking” is defined as the use of stakes, flags, paint, buoys, or clearly identifiable materials placed on the surface of the ground or water to show the approximate location of underground facilities. There are options for marking facilities as appropriate for the area of excavation. This allows the facility operator to make the determination if temporary paint or flags, or other resources, is the best way to mark the approximate location of their facilities.
The Alabama Statute outlines in §37-15-6 entitled Response to Notice of Intent to Excavate or Demolish the requirements for underground facility owners to locate their underground facilities prior to proposed excavation activities. Facility owners may face situations where a facility may not be easily located and provisions are included to allow for feasible options to address this with the excavator. This section of the law outlines various scenarios to provide guidance on how unique situations may be addressed to comply with the locating provisions.
§37-15-6 (a)(1) Each operator served with notice in accordance with Section 37-15-4, with underground facilities in the area, shall mark or cause to be marked or otherwise provide the approximate location of the operator's underground facilities by marking in a manner as prescribed herein prior to the proposed start of excavation, demolition, or blasting. If any underground facilities become damaged due to an operator furnishing inaccurate information as to the approximate location of the facilities, through no fault of the operator, then the civil liabilities imposed by this chapter do not apply.
(2) In lieu of such marking, the operator may request to be present at the site upon commencement of the excavation, demolition, or blasting.
3) A member operator that states that it does not have accurate information concerning the exact location of its underground facilities is exempt from the requirements under Section 37-15-6 but shall provide the best available information to the person excavating in order to comply with the requirements of this section. A person excavating
is not liable for any damage to an underground facility under the exemption in this subdivision if the excavation or demolition is performed with reasonable care as noted in Section 37-15-8 and the excavator uses detection equipment or other acceptable means to determine the location of the underground facilities.
(4) When an excavator encounters an unmarked underground facility on an excavation site where notice of intent to excavate has been made in accordance with the provisions of Section 37-15-4, and attempts a follow-up or second notice relative to revising the original notice to the "One-Call Notification System" or the operator, all operators thus notified must attempt to contact the excavator within four hours and provide a response relative to any of their known underground facilities, active or abandoned, at the site of the excavation.
......(f) Any contract locator acting on behalf of an operator shall be subject to this section.
2023, Issue 2 Alabama 811 • 7

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