Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
4/25/2017

Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act

§ 56-265.14. Short title.

This chapter may be cited as the "Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act."

1979, c. 291.

§ 56-265.15. Definitions; calculation of time periods.

A. As used in this chapter:

"Abandoned" means no longer in service and physically disconnected from a portion of the underground utility line that is in use for storage or conveyance of service.

"Commission" means the State Corporation Commission.

"Contract locator" means any person contracted by an operator specifically to determine the approximate horizontal location of the operator's utility lines that may exist within the area specified by a notice served on a notification center.

"Damage" means any impact upon or removal of support from an underground facility as a result of excavation or demolition which according to the operating practices of the operator would necessitate the repair of such facility.

"Demolish" or "demolition" means any operation by which a structure or mass of material is wrecked, razed, rendered, moved, or removed by means of any tools, equipment, or discharge of explosives which could damage underground utility lines.

"Designer" means any licensed professional designated by the project owner who designs government projects, commercial projects, residential projects consisting of 25 or more units, or industrial projects, which projects require the approval of governmental or regulatory authorities having jurisdiction over the project area.

"Emergency" means a sudden or unexpected occurrence involving a clear and imminent danger, demanding immediate action to prevent or mitigate loss of, or damage to, life, health, property, or essential public services.

"Excavate" or "excavation" means any operation in which earth, rock, or other material in the ground is moved, removed, or otherwise displaced by means of any tools, equipment, or explosives and includes, without limitation, grading, trenching, digging, ditching, dredging, drilling, augering, tunneling, scraping, cable or pipe plowing and driving, wrecking, razing, rendering, moving, or removing any structure or mass of material. "Excavate" or "excavation" shall not include installation of a sign that consists of metal, plastic, or wooden poles placed in the ground by hand or by foot without the use of tools or equipment.

"Extraordinary circumstances" means floods, snow, ice storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, or other natural disasters.

"Hand digging" means any excavation involving nonmechanized tools or equipment. Hand digging includes, but is not limited to, digging with shovels, picks, and manual post hole diggers, vacuum excavation or soft digging.

"Notification center" means an organization whose membership is open to all operators of underground facilities located within the notification center's designated service area, which maintains a data base, provided by its member operators, that includes the geographic areas in which its member operators desire transmissions of notices of proposed excavation, and which has the capability to transmit, within one hour of receipt, notices of proposed excavation to member operators by teletype, telecopy, personal computer, or telephone.

"Notify," "notice" or "notification" means the completed delivery of information to the person to be notified, and the receipt of same by such person in accordance with this chapter. The delivery of information includes, but is not limited to, the use of any electronic or technological means of data transfer.

"Operator" means any person who owns, furnishes or transports materials or services by means of a utility line.

"Person" means any individual, operator, firm, joint venture, partnership, corporation, association, municipality, or other political subdivision, governmental unit, department or agency, and includes any trustee, receiver, assignee, or personal representative thereof.

"Private sewer lateral" means a privately owned, legally authorized utility line that transports wastewater from one or more buildings to a sewer system utility line owned by a sewer system operator.

"Private water lateral" means a privately owned, legally authorized utility line that supplies water from a water system utility line owned by a water system operator to one or more buildings or properties.

"Sewer system" means a system of utility lines used for conveying wastewater, and includes sewer system laterals but does not include private sewer laterals.

"Sewer system lateral" means a lateral utility line located in the public right-of-way or public sewer easement, owned by a sewer system operator, and used to transport wastewater to the operator's main sewer line.

"Sewer system operator" means an operator of a sewer system.

"Soft digging" means any excavation using tools or equipment that utilize air or water pressure as the direct means to break up soil or earth for removal by vacuum excavation.

"Special project notice" means a valid notice to the notification center by an excavator covering a specific, unique or long-term project.

"Utility line" means any item of public or private property which is buried or placed below ground or submerged for use in connection with the storage or conveyance of water, sewage, telecommunications, electric energy, cable television, oil, petroleum products, gas, or other substances, and includes but is not limited to pipes, sewers, combination storm/sanitary sewer systems, conduits, cables, valves, lines, wires, manholes, attachments, and those portions of poles below ground. The term "sewage" as used herein does not include any gravity storm drainage systems. Except for any publicly owned gravity sewer system within a county which has adopted the urban county executive form of government, the term "utility line" does not include any gravity sewer system or any combination gravity storm/sanitary sewer system within any counties, cities, towns or political subdivisions constructed or replaced prior to January 1, 1995. No excavator shall be held liable for the cost to repair damage to any such systems constructed or replaced prior to January 1, 1995, unless such systems are located in accordance with § 56-265.19.

"Water system" means a system of utility lines used for supplying water, and does not include private water laterals.

"Water system operator" means an operator of a water system.

"Willful" means an act done intentionally, knowingly, and purposely, without justifiable excuse, as distinguished from an act done carelessly, thoughtlessly, heedlessly or inadvertently.

"Working day" means every day, except Saturdays, Sundays, and legal state and national holidays.

B. Unless otherwise specified, all time periods used in this chapter shall be calculated from the time of the original notification to the notification center as provided in § 56-265.17. In addition, all time periods exclude Saturdays, Sundays, and legal state and national holidays.

1979, c. 291; 1980, cc. 696, 710; 1992, c. 192; 1994, c. 890; 1996, c. 79; 2002, c. 841; 2010, cc. 205, 777, 832.

§ 56-265.15:1. Exemptions; routine maintenance.

Nothing in this chapter shall apply to:

1. Any hand digging performed by an owner or occupant of a property.

2. The tilling of soil for agricultural purposes.

3. Any excavation done by a railroad when the excavation is made entirely on the land which the railroad owns and on which the railroad operates, provided there is no encroachment on any operator's rights-of-way or easements.

4. An excavation or demolition during an emergency, as defined in § 56-265.15, provided all reasonable precaution has been taken to protect the underground utility lines.

In the case of the state highway systems or streets and roads maintained by political subdivisions, officials of the Department of Transportation or the political subdivision where the use of such highways, roads, streets or other public way is impaired by an unforeseen occurrence shall determine the necessity of repair beginning immediately after the occurrence.

5. Any excavation for routine pavement maintenance, including patch type paving or the milling of pavement surfaces, upon the paved portion of any street, road, or highway of the Commonwealth provided that any such excavation does not exceed a depth of twelve inches (0.3 meter).

6. Any excavation for the purpose of mining pursuant to and in accordance with the requirements of a permit issued by the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

7. Any hand digging performed by an operator to locate the operator's utility lines in response to a notice of excavation from the notification center, provided all reasonable precaution has been taken to protect the underground utility lines.

8. Any installation of a sign that does not involve excavation as defined in § 56-265.15.

1994, c. 890; 1996, c. 79; 2002, c. 841; 2010, cc. 777, 832.

§ 56-265.16. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1989, c. 448, effective July 1, 1990.

§ 56-265.16:1. Operators to join notification centers; certification.

A. Every operator, including counties, cities and towns, but excluding the Department of Transportation, having the right to bury underground utility lines shall join the notification center for the area.

B. Every notification center shall be certified by the Commission. The Commission shall determine the optimum number of notification centers in the Commonwealth. If the Commission determines that there shall be more than one notification center in the Commonwealth, it shall define the geographic area to be served by each notification center.

C. Any corporation desiring to serve as the notification center for an area of the Commonwealth may apply to the Commission to be certified as the notification center for that area. The Commission shall have authority to grant, amend, or revoke certificates under regulations promulgated relating to certification. An application for certification shall include such information as the Commission may reasonably require addressing the applicant's operational plan for the notification center.

D. Every Commission action regarding the optimum number of notification centers, the geographic area to be served by each notification center, the promulgation of notification center certification regulations, and the grant, amendment, or revocation of notification center certifications shall be made in furtherance of the purpose of preventing or mitigating loss of, or damage to, life, health, property or essential public services resulting from damage to underground utility lines. Any action by the Commission to approve or revoke any notification center certification shall:

1. Ensure protection for the public from the hazards that this chapter is intended to prevent or mitigate;

2. Ensure that all persons served by the notification center receive an acceptable level of performance, which level shall be maintained throughout the period of the notification center's certification; and

3. Require the notification center and its agents to demonstrate financial responsibility for any damages that may result from their violation of any provision of this chapter. Such requirement may be met by purchasing and maintaining liability insurance on such terms and in such amount as the Commission deems appropriate.

E. A notification center shall maintain an excavator-operator information exchange system in accordance with notification center certification regulations promulgated by the Commission. The members of a notification center shall be responsible for developing and implementing a public awareness program to ensure that all parties affected by this chapter shall be aware of their responsibilities. There shall be only one notification center certified for each geographic area defined by the Commission.

1989, c. 448; 1992, c. 192; 1994, c. 890; 2001, c. 399.

§ 56-265.17. Notification required prior to excavation or demolition; waiting periods; marking of proposed site.

A. Except as provided in subsection G, no person, including operators, shall make or begin any excavation or demolition without first notifying the notification center for that area. Notice to the notification center shall be deemed to be notice to each operator who is a member of the notification center. The notification center shall provide the excavator with the identity of utilities that will be notified of the proposed excavation or demolition. Except for counties, cities, and towns, an excavator who willfully fails to notify the notification center of proposed excavation or demolition shall be liable to the operator whose facilities are damaged by that excavator, for three times the cost to repair the damaged property, provided the operator is a member of the notification center. The total amount of punitive damages awarded under this section, as distinguished from actual damages, shall not exceed $10,000 in any single cause of action.

B. Except in the case of an emergency as defined in § 56-265.15, the excavator may commence work under one of the following conditions:

1. After waiting forty-eight hours, beginning 7:00 a.m. the next working day following notice to the notification center;

2. At any time, if the excavator confirms that all applicable operators have either marked their underground utility lines or reported that no lines are present in the vicinity of the excavation or demolition. The confirmation shall be obtained by contacting or receiving information from the notification center's excavator-operator information exchange system; or

3. If informed by the notification center that no operators are to be notified.

If any operator fails to respond to the excavator-operator information exchange system as required by this chapter, the notification center shall renotify any operator of its failure. This renotification shall not constitute an exemption from the duties of the operator set forth in § 56-265.19.

C. The excavator shall exercise due care at all times to protect underground utility lines. If, upon arrival at the site of a proposed excavation, the excavator observes clear evidence of the presence of an unmarked utility line in the area of the proposed excavation, the excavator shall not begin excavating until three hours after an additional call is made to the notification center for the area. The operator of any unmarked utility line shall respond within three hours of the excavator's call to the notification center.

D. The excavator's notification shall be valid for fifteen working days from 7:00 a.m. on the next working day following notice to the notification center. Three working days before the end of the fifteen-working-day period, or at any time when line-location markings on the ground become illegible, the excavator intending to excavate shall contact the notification center and request the re-marking of lines. The operator shall re-mark the lines as soon as possible; however, the re-marking of the lines shall be completed within forty-eight hours from 7:00 a.m. on the next working day following the request for the re-mark. Such re-marking shall be valid for an additional fifteen working days from 7:00 a.m. on the next working day following notice to the notification center.

E. In the event a specific location of the excavation cannot be given as required by subdivision 2 of § 56-265.18, prior to notifying the notification center pursuant to subsection A of this section, the person proposing to excavate or demolish shall mark the route or boundary of the site of the proposed excavation or demolition by means of white paint, if practical.

F. The extent of the excavator's proposed work shall be a work area that can be excavated within fifteen working days from 7:00 a.m. on the next working day following notice to the notification center. The area covered under each notice shall not exceed one mile.

G. An excavator may request a special project notice from the notification center for the purpose of notifying the operators of the excavator's desire to enter into an agreement for locating and protecting the operator's underground utility lines for a specific, unique or long-term project. An excavator using a special project notice shall have complete control over all activities within the project area. The terms and conditions of such agreements must be agreed upon, in writing, by the excavator and the operator before excavation commences. Such agreement and compliance with the terms of the agreement shall constitute an exemption from the requirements of subsections A, B, C, D and E of this section.

1979, c. 291; 1989, c. 448; 1992, c. 192; 1994, c. 890; 2002, c. 841.

§ 56-265.17:1. Notification and procedures for designers.

A. Each designer, who prepares drawings and plans for projects requiring excavation or demolition work, may notify the notification center and provide the center with the information required by § 56-265.18 and the designer's professional license number.

B. If a designer notifies the notification center to receive underground utility line information in accordance with § 56-265.17:3, the designer shall:

1. Indicate on the construction drawings, the type of underground utility lines, the horizontal location of these lines as provided by the operators, and the names of the operators of these lines;

2. Consider, when designing a project and preparing drawings therefor, the location of existing underground lines so as to minimize damage or interference with the existing facilities;

3. Indicate, on the construction plans or drawings, the designer ticket number and the notification center's toll-free number; and

4. Request only one designer ticket per project through the notification center at no cost.

2002, c. 841.

§ 56-265.17:2. Procedures for project owners.

The project owner shall provide copies of those portions of the drawings that affect the respective operator with underground utility lines in the project area who have responded in accordance with § 56-265.17:3.

2002, c. 841.

§ 56-265.17:3. Procedures for operators in response to a designer notice.

An operator, upon notification by a designer in accordance with § 56-265.17:1, shall:

1. Respond to the designer's request for underground utility line information within fifteen working days in accordance with subdivisions 2, 3, and 4 of this section;

2. Provide designers with the operator's name, the type of underground utility line, and the approximate horizontal location of the utility line. The foregoing information may be provided to the designer through the means that include, but are not limited to, field locates, maps, surveys, installation records or other means. If the designer requests field locates, the operator shall provide field locates in accordance with the accuracy set forth in subsection A of § 56-265.19. Marking shall be done by both paint and flags whenever possible;

3. Provide such information about the location of the utility lines to designers for informational purposes only. Operators will not be liable for any incorrect information provided or for the subsequent use of this information, nor will they be subject to civil penalties for the accuracy of the information or marks provided. Any concerns about the accuracy of information or marks should be directed to the appropriate operator; and

4. Respond to the operator-excavator information exchange system by no later than 7:00 a.m. on the sixteenth working day following the designer's notice to the notification center.

2002, c. 841.

§ 56-265.18. Notification requirements.

Every notice served by any person on a notification center shall contain the following information:

1. The name of the individual serving such notice.

2. The specific location of the proposed work. In the event a specific description of the location of the excavation cannot be given, the person proposing to excavate or demolish shall comply with subsection E of § 56-265.17.

3. The name, address, telephone number, and telefacsimile number if available, of the excavator or demolisher, to whom notification can be given.

4. The excavator's or demolisher's field telephone number, if one is available.

5. The type and extent of the proposed work.

6. The name of the person for whom the proposed work is being performed.

1979, c. 291; 1980, c. 696; 1989, c. 448; 1994, c. 890; 2002, c. 841.

§ 56-265.19. Duties of operator; regulations.

A. If a proposed excavation or demolition is planned in such proximity to the underground utility line that the utility line may be destroyed, damaged, dislocated, or disturbed, the operator shall mark the approximate horizontal location of the underground utility line on the ground to within two feet of either side of the underground utility line by means of stakes, paint, flags, or a combination thereof. The operator shall mark the underground utility line and report the marking status to the excavator-operator information exchange system by no later than 7:00 a.m. on the third working day following the excavator's notice to the notification center, unless the operator is unable to do so due to extraordinary circumstances. If the operator is unable to mark the location within the time allowed under this section due to extraordinary circumstances, the operator shall notify directly the person who proposes to excavate or demolish and shall, in addition, notify the person of the date and time when the location will be marked. The deferral to mark for extraordinary circumstances shall be no longer than 96 hours from 7:00 a.m. on the next working day following notice to the notification center, unless a longer time is otherwise agreed upon by the operator and excavator. The operator shall also inform the notification center of any deferral.

B. If a proposed excavation or demolition is not planned in such proximity to the operator's underground utility lines that the utility line may be damaged, the operator shall so report to the notification center's excavator-operator information exchange system no later than 7:00 a.m. on the third working day following the excavator's notice to the notification center.

C. An operator shall participate in all preplanning and preconstruction meetings originated by state, county or municipal authorities relating to proposed construction projects which may affect the operator's existing or future utility lines and shall cooperate in implementing decisions reached in such preplanning and preconstruction meetings.

D. Any contract locator acting on behalf of an operator and failing to perform the duties imposed by this chapter shall be subject to the liabilities in § 56-265.25 and the civil penalties in § 56-265.32.

E. Locators shall be trained in applicable locating industry standards and practices no less stringent than the National Utility Locating Contractors Association's locator training standards and practices. Each locator's training shall be documented. Such documents shall be maintained by the operator or contract locator.

F. The Commission shall be authorized to adopt regulations designating: (i) letters for each operator to be used in conjunction with marking of underground utility lines, and (ii) symbols for marking of underground utility lines, in compliance with subsection B of § 56-265.17:3. Such letter designation and marking symbols shall be in accordance with industry standards.

G. For underground utility lines abandoned after July 1, 2002, operators shall make a reasonable attempt to keep records of these abandoned utility lines, excluding service lines connected to a single-family dwelling unit. When an operator has knowledge that the operator's abandoned utility lines may be present within the area of the proposed excavation, the operator shall provide a response to the excavator-operator information exchange system. Such information regarding abandoned lines shall be for informational purposes only. An operator shall not be liable to any person, or subject to civil penalties, as a result of the operator's providing incorrect information regarding abandoned lines or the subsequent use of such information. The excavator-operator information exchange system may refer any person with concerns about the accuracy of information regarding abandoned lines to the appropriate operator.

H. An operator shall respond to an emergency notice as soon as possible but no later than three hours from the excavator's call to the notification center.

1979, c. 291; 1980, c. 696; 1994, c. 890; 1996, c. 79; 2002, c. 841; 2005, c. 395.

§ 56-265.19:1. Private sewer laterals and sewer system laterals.

A. Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter to the contrary, the protection of sewer system laterals and private sewer laterals shall be implemented as provided in this section. When an excavation is to take place within a public right-of-way or public sewer easement, the sewer system operator shall exercise reasonable care to mark the approximate horizontal location of sewer system laterals within the public right-of-way or public sewer easement as provided in § 56-265.19.

B. When (i) an excavation is to take place outside the public right-of-way or public sewer easement, (ii) the excavation involves the installation or maintenance of gas or electric utility lines by trenchless technology, (iii) the potential for a conflict with a sewer lateral exists, and (iv) sewer system laterals are located in the public right-of-way:

1. The sewer system operator shall exercise reasonable care to mark the approximate horizontal location of sewer system laterals by:

a. Marking the location of the sewer system lateral where it meets the edge of the right-of-way or public sewer easement, if known; or

b. If the location described in subdivision B 1 a is unknown, marking the location where the sewer system lateral connects to the sewer system main.

2. When the sewer system laterals have been marked in accordance with subdivision B 1 and the excavator reasonably concludes that a private sewer lateral may be impacted by the planned excavation based upon visual evidence, knowledge of the proposed excavation site, or other information available to the excavator, the excavator shall exercise reasonable care to protect the private sewer lateral. For purposes of this subdivision, reasonable care includes the following actions:

a. Reviewing information provided by the private sewer lateral owner;

b. Meeting with the sewer system operator on-site, if the sewer system operator has additional information to provide about the location of private sewer laterals; or

c. Conducting a visual inspection of the proposed excavation site in an effort to determine the probable path of the sewer lateral.

C. When (i) an excavation is to take place within or outside the public right-of-way or public sewer easement, (ii) the excavation involves the installation or maintenance of gas or electric utility lines by trenchless technology, (iii) the potential for a conflict with a sewer lateral exists, and (iv) private sewer laterals are located in the public right-of-way or easement:

1. The sewer system operator shall assist the excavator by one of the following methods, unless the operator marks private sewer laterals in the manner required for its sewer system laterals under subsection B:

a. Provide copies of the best reasonably available records regarding the location of the private sewer laterals by electronic message, mail, facsimile, or other delivery method. If an excavation affects 25 or more private sewer laterals, the sewer system operator's response shall be in accordance with the timelines set forth in § 56-265.17:3. If the provision of records required by this subsection imposes an unreasonable burden or substantial cost upon a sewer system operator, the excavator and the sewer system operator shall endeavor in good faith to reach an agreement to provide the sewer system operator with additional time to provide the records or any other mutually agreeable accommodation.

b. Provide the best reasonably available records on the Internet or another readily accessible electronic system in order that the records may be retrieved by the excavator from a remote location. If the sewer system operator has implemented such a system, then the sewer system operator shall have no further obligations to provide records under subdivision C 1 a.

c. If the sewer system operator has no such records, but has additional information to provide about the location of private sewer laterals, then the sewer system operator shall notify the excavator of such information and, upon request, either meet with the excavator on-site or convey such information to the excavator.

2. When the records have been made available in accordance with subdivision C 1 and the excavator reasonably concludes that a private sewer lateral may be impacted by the planned excavation based upon visual evidence, knowledge of the proposed excavation site, or other information available to the excavator, the excavator shall exercise reasonable care to protect the private sewer lateral. For purposes of this subdivision, reasonable care includes the following actions:

a. Reviewing information provided by the sewer system operator;

b. Reviewing information provided by the private sewer lateral owner;

c. Meeting with the sewer system operator on-site if the sewer system operator has additional information to provide about the location of private sewer laterals; or

d. Conducting a visual inspection of the proposed excavation site in an effort to determine the probable path of the sewer lateral.

D. Sewer system operators shall mark utility lines, other than sewer system laterals and private sewer laterals, as provided by other sections of this chapter.

E. Water system operators shall mark water system utility lines as provided by other sections of this chapter, except that a water system operator shall not be responsible for marking private water laterals.

F. Records regarding the location of private sewer laterals provided on the Internet or otherwise made accessible by an electronic system pursuant to subdivision C 1 b shall also be accessible to other public utilities and cable operators or excavators working on their behalf for purposes of compliance with this chapter.

G. In all excavations, the excavator shall exercise reasonable care to protect underground utility lines.

2010, c. 205.

§ 56-265.20. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1994, c. 890, effective January 1, 1995.

§ 56-265.20:1. Locating nonmetallic underground utility lines.

Notwithstanding the provisions of § 56-257.1, any plastic or other nonmetallic utility lines installed underground on and after July 1, 2002, shall be installed in such a manner as to be locatable by the operator for the purposes of this chapter.

2002, c. 841.

§ 56-265.21. Marking by color.

In marking the approximate location of underground utility lines or proposed excavation if required pursuant to subsection E of § 56-265.17 the American Public Works Association color codes shall be used.

1979, c. 291; 1994, c. 890; 2002, c. 841.

§ 56-265.22. Duties of notification center upon notification by person intending to excavate; record of notification made by telephone required.

A. The notification center shall, upon receiving notice by a person, notify all member operators whose underground lines are located in the area of the proposed project, excavation or demolition. The notification center shall also indicate the names of those operators being notified to the person providing notice.

B. If the notification required by this chapter is made by telephone, a record of such notification shall be maintained by the operators or notification center notified to document compliance with the requirements of this chapter, and such records shall be maintained in compliance with the applicable statute of limitations.

C. The notification center shall notify excavators, within the time frame allowed by the law to mark underground utility lines, of any responses placed on the excavator-operator information exchange system by a locator. Such notification shall occur by facsimile or other mutually acceptable means of automatically transmitting and receiving this information.

If the excavator cannot provide the notification center with a facsimile number or other mutually acceptable means of automatically transmitting and receiving this information, it shall be the excavator's responsibility to contact the excavator-operator information exchange system after the period allowed by law to mark underground facilities and prior to commencing excavation in order to determine if any responses to the notice have been recorded.

1979, c. 291; 1994, c. 890; 2002, c. 841.

§ 56-265.22:1. Meetings between excavators and operators.

A. Any person planning excavation or demolition in such proximity to the underground utility lines that the utility lines may be destroyed, damaged, dislocated, or disturbed may request a meeting with the operator whose underground utility lines are located in the area of the proposed excavation or demolition to discuss the marking of such lines. The project requiring excavation shall be of sufficient complexity to require a pre-marking meeting. The meeting notice shall include all information required by § 56-265.18 and a specific time and location for the meeting.

B. The notification center shall, upon receiving a meeting notice, notify all member operators whose underground utility lines are located in the area of the proposed excavation or demolition. The notification center shall provide to the excavator the names of those operators being notified of the meeting.

C. The operators notified by the notification center shall meet with the excavator by 7:00 a.m. on the third working day following the excavator's meeting notice. If an operator does not agree to the excavator's suggested time and location, the operator shall set up a mutually agreeable time and location to meet no later than 7:00 a.m. on the third working day following the meeting notice.

D. The excavator's meeting notice shall not be the notice to excavate required under § 56-265.17. The notice to excavate required under § 56-265.17 for the project shall not be submitted to the notification center until after the meeting referenced in subsection A of this section has occurred, or after 7:00 a.m. on the third working day following the meeting notice.

2002, c. 841.

§ 56-265.23. Exemption for roadway maintenance operations by the Virginia Department of Transportation and certain counties, cities, and towns.

Employees of the Virginia Department of Transportation acting within the scope of their employment, and certain employees of those counties, cities, and towns which maintain their streets or roads in accordance with § 33.2-319 or § 33.2-366 performing street or roadway maintenance operations and acting within the scope of their employment, excavating entirely within the right-of-way of a public road, street or highway of the Commonwealth shall not be required to comply with the provisions of this chapter if reasonable care is taken to protect the utility lines placed in the right-of-way by permit and if they:

1. Excavate within the limits of the original excavation; on the traveled way, shoulders or drainage features of a public road, street, or highway and any excavation does not exceed eighteen inches (0.45 meter) in depth below the grade existing prior to such excavation; or

2. Are replacing previously existing structures in their previous locations.

1979, c. 291; 1994, c. 890.

§ 56-265.24. Duties of excavator.

A. Any person excavating within two feet on either side of the staked or marked location of an operator's underground utility line or demolishing in such proximity to an underground utility line that the utility line may be destroyed, damaged, dislocated or disturbed shall take all reasonable steps necessary to properly protect, support and backfill underground utility lines. For excavations not parallel to an existing underground utility line, such steps shall include, but may not be limited to:

1. Exposing the underground utility line to its extremities by hand digging;

2. Not utilizing mechanized equipment within two feet of the extremities of all exposed utility lines; and

3. Protecting the exposed utility lines from damage.

In addition, for excavations parallel to an existing utility line, such steps shall include, but may not be limited to, hand digging at reasonable distances along the line of excavation. The excavator shall exercise due care at all times to protect underground utility lines when exposing these lines by hand digging.

B. If the markings locating the underground lines become illegible due to time, weather, construction, or any other cause, the person performing the excavation or demolition shall so notify the notification center for the area. Such notification shall constitute an extension under subsection D of § 56-265.17.

C. If, upon arrival at the site of a proposed excavation, the excavator observes clear evidence of the presence of an unmarked utility line in the area of the proposed excavation, the excavator shall not begin excavating until an additional call is made to the notification center for the area pursuant to subsection B of § 56-265.17.

D. In the event of any damage to, or dislocation, or disturbance of any underground utility line including its appurtenances, covering, and coating, in connection with any excavation or demolition, the person responsible for the excavation or demolition operations shall immediately notify the operator of the underground utility line and shall not backfill around the underground utility line until the operator has repaired the damage or has given clearance to backfill. The operator shall either commence repair of the damage or give clearance to backfill within twenty-four hours, and upon his failure to commence or prosecute with diligence such repair or give clearance, the giving of clearance shall be presumed.

E. If the damage, dislocation, or disturbance of the underground utility line creates an emergency, the person responsible for the excavation or demolition shall, in addition to complying with subsection D of this section, take immediate steps reasonably calculated to safeguard life, health and property.

F. With the exception of designers requesting marking of a site, in accordance with § 56-265.17, no person, including operators, shall request marking of a site through a notification center unless excavation shall commence within thirty working days from the date of the original notification to the notification center. Except for counties, cities, and towns, any person who willfully fails to comply with this subsection shall be liable to the operator for three times the cost of marking its utility line, not to exceed $1,000.

G. Any person performing excavation or demolition shall provide to the operator of the underground utility line in the area of excavation or to the appropriate regulatory authority having jurisdiction, the number issued by the notification center for that excavation site in response to the excavator's notice, within one hour of a request for the number issued by the notification center.

H. If an excavator discovers an unmarked line, the excavator shall protect this line pursuant to subsection C of this section. An excavator shall not remove an abandoned line without first receiving authorization to do so by the operator.

1979, c. 291; 1994, c. 890; 1996, c. 79; 2002, c. 841.

§ 56-265.25. Liability of operator and excavator; penalties.

A.1. If any underground utility line is damaged as a proximate result of a person's failure to comply with any provision of this chapter, that person shall be liable to the operator of the underground utility line for the total cost to repair the damaged facilities as that cost is normally computed by the operator, provided the operator is a member of the notification center covering the area in which the damage to the utility line takes place. The liability of such a person for such damage shall not be limited by reason of this chapter.

2. Any person who willfully fails to notify the notification center of proposed excavation or demolition shall be liable to the operator as provided in subsection A of § 56-265.17.

3. If, after receiving proper notice, an operator fails to discharge a duty imposed by any provision of this chapter and an underground utility line of such operator is damaged, as a proximate result of the operator's failure to discharge such duty, by any person who has complied with all of the provisions of this chapter, such person shall not be so liable.

B. If an underground utility line of an operator is damaged, as the proximate result of the operator's failure to comply with any provision of this chapter, by any person who has complied with the provisions of this chapter, the operator shall be liable to such person for the total cost to repair any damage to the equipment or facilities of such person resulting from such damage to the operator's underground utility line.

C. Except as specifically set forth herein, the provisions of this chapter shall not be construed to either abrogate any rights, duties, or remedies existing under law or create any rights, duties, defenses, or remedies in addition to any rights, duties, or remedies existing under law.

1979, c. 291; 1980, c. 696; 1989, c. 448; 1994, c. 890.

§ 56-265.26. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1994, c. 890, effective January 1, 1995.

§ 56-265.26:1. Utility line depth requirement.

Every operator having the right to install underground utility lines shall install such underground utility lines at depths required by accepted industry standards. Such standards shall include, as applicable, standards established by the National Electrical Safety Code, Bellcore Blue Book-Manual of Contractor's Procedures, the Commission's pipeline safety regulations, the Department of Health's waterworks regulations, and the depth standards of the Virginia Cable Telecommunications Association, which shall be established in consultation with the State Corporation Commission no later than July 1, 2002.

2002, c. 841.

§ 56-265.27. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 2015, c. 709, cl. 2.

§ 56-265.28. Sovereign immunity.

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to abrogate the immunity from suit accruing to the Commonwealth, her political subdivisions, agencies, officers or employees, or the officers or employees of her political subdivisions and agencies, as exists prior to July 1, 1980.

1979, c. 291.

§ 56-265.29. Other similar laws.

Compliance with the provisions of this chapter shall not exempt any operator or person from the operation of any other applicable laws, ordinances, regulations, or rules of governmental and regulatory authorities having jurisdiction, unless exempted by such other laws, ordinances, regulations, or rules as a result of such compliance.

1979, c. 291.

§ 56-265.30. Authority of the State Corporation Commission.

A. The Commission shall enforce the provisions of the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act as set out in this chapter. The Commission may promulgate any rules or regulations necessary to implement the Commission's authority to enforce this chapter.

B. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to authorize the Commission to promulgate any rules or regulations pursuant to its authority to enforce this chapter that require any person, other than jurisdictional gas or hazardous liquid operators, to report to the Commission any probable violation of this chapter or any incident involving damage, dislocation or disturbance of any utility line.

1994, c. 890; 2001, c. 399.

§ 56-265.31. Commission to establish advisory committee.

A. The Commission shall establish an advisory committee consisting of representatives of the following entities: Commission staff, utility operator, notification center, excavator, municipality, Virginia Department of Transportation, Board for Contractors, and underground line locator. Persons appointed to the advisory committee by the Commission shall have expertise with the operation of the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act. The advisory committee shall perform duties which may be assigned by the Commission, including the review of reports of violations of the chapter, and make recommendations to the Commission.

B. The members of the advisory committee shall be immune, individually and jointly, from civil liability for any act or omission done or made in performance of their duties while serving as members of such advisory committee, but only in the absence of willful misconduct.

1994, c. 890; 1996, c. 79.

§ 56-265.32. Commission to impose civil penalties for certain violations; establishment of Underground Utility Damage Prevention Special Fund.

A. The Commission may, by judgment entered after a hearing on notice duly served on any person not less than 30 days before the date of the hearing, impose a civil penalty not exceeding $2,500 for each violation, if it is proved that the person violated any of the provisions of this chapter as a result of a failure to exercise reasonable care. Any proceeding or civil penalty undertaken pursuant to this section shall not prevent nor preempt the right of any party to obtain civil damages for personal injury or property damage in private causes of action. This subsection shall not authorize the Commission to impose civil penalties on any county, city, town, or other political subdivision. However, the Commission shall inform the counties, cities, towns, and other political subdivisions of reports of alleged violations involving the locality or political subdivision and, at the request of the locality or political subdivision, suggest corrective action.

B. If the Commission asserts there is recurring noncompliance with any of the provisions of this chapter by a county, city, town, or other political subdivision, the Commission, upon written notice to the chairman of such operator's board or, in the case of a city or town, the mayor of such operator's council, and to such operator's chief executive officer, may require a written response by such person or his designee. Such response shall be made within 30 days of the operator's receipt of written notice from the Commission. The response shall confirm that the operator will comply promptly or explain why it disputes any assertion by the Commission of noncompliance. If the operator is not able to return to compliance promptly, the operator shall describe its plan to achieve compliance in a corrective action plan to be submitted to the Commission no later than 60 days after the receipt of the written notice. Following submittal of a corrective action plan, the Commission may convene a hearing for the purpose of receiving additional evidence, determining whether noncompliance has occurred, and determining further suggested corrective action. The Commission may also convene such a hearing if the operator fails to provide a written response or a corrective action plan as required by this subsection, or provides a response that disputes the Commission's assertions. Nothing in this section shall limit the Commission's powers under this chapter with respect to persons who are not counties, cities, towns, or political subdivisions of the Commonwealth.

C. The Underground Utility Damage Prevention Special Fund (hereinafter referred to as Special Fund) is hereby established as a revolving fund to be used by the Commission for administering the regulatory program authorized by this chapter. The Special Fund shall be composed entirely of funds generated by the enforcement of this chapter. Excess funds shall be used to support any one or more of the following: (i) public awareness programs established by a notification center pursuant to subsection B of § 56-265.16:1; (ii) training and education programs for excavators, operators, line locators, and other persons; and (iii) programs providing incentives for excavators, operators, line locators, and other persons to reduce the number and severity of violations of the Act. The Commission shall determine the appropriate allocation of any excess funds among such programs, and shall establish required elements for any program established under clause (ii) or (iii).

D. All civil penalties collected pursuant to this section shall be deposited into the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Special Fund. Interest earned on the fund shall be credited to the Special Fund. The Special Fund shall be established on the books of the Commission comptroller and any funds remaining in the Underground Utility Damage Prevention Special Fund at the end of the fiscal year shall not revert to the general fund, but shall remain in the Special Fund.

1994, c. 890; 2001, c. 351; 2002, c. 348; 2010, c. 205.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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