Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 56. Public Service Companies
Chapter 10.3. Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act

§ 56-265.24. Duties of excavator.

A. No excavator shall begin any excavation or demolition before reviewing and heeding the positive response marking status of the excavation area. 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, after at least 48 hours beginning with 7:00 a.m. the next working day following a locate request or on the date of excavation, 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 contact is made to the notification center for the area pursuant to subsection C of § 56-265.17 and the excavator has verified that no information has been posted to the positive response system or information posted to the positive response system is inconsistent with the clear evidence observed by the excavator.

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, 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. 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; 2023, cc. 299, 300.

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