Officers Target Unlawful Digging in Florida

Officers Target Unlawful Digging in Florida



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DeBary, FL–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–June 18, 2004–Excavators throughout Florida may experience increased penalties, fines and job site shut-downs as Sunshine State One Call of Florida, Inc. launches an eight-county enforcement program to educate Florida’s excavators on safe digging practices as outlined in state law, Chapter 556, F.S., the Underground Facilities Damage Prevention and Safety Act.

The program, beginning in June 2004, uses off-duty officers to patrol neighborhoods and construction projects in search of excavators who have not called (800) 432-4770 to have buried utility lines located and marked before digging. Targeted counties include Duval, Hernando, Pinellas, Martin, Okaloosa, Seminole, St. Lucie and Volusia. Excavators without a valid locate ticket for any project that involves digging run the risk of paying fines from $250 to $5,000 and lost revenues from their job site being shut down until they have a valid locate ticket and have waited the required two full business days before digging.

“We wanted to create a system that could help us find out, first hand, whether excavators were aware of the need to call before digging,” explained Mark Sweet, executive director for SSOCOF. “Using off-duty officers lends credibility to our efforts and hopefully will reduce the number of utility service outages and personal injuries or deaths that occur each year as a result of someone hitting a buried utility line.”

SSOCOF is a call center mandated by state statute to receive calls from professional excavators and homeowners two full business days before digging. Based on that call, SSOCOF produces a locate ticket which is transmitted to utility owners with buried facilities close to the excavation site. Utility owners are then responsible for locating and marking their buried utility line with color-coded paint or flags, or clearing the site. SSOCOF offers free educational sessions to professional excavators and homeowners. For more information on free classes and other SSOCOF services, visit http://www.callsunshine.com.

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CONTACT:

Sunshine State One Call of Florida, Inc.

Damage Prevention Manager

Cheryl Ritter, (954) 389-7328 (voice)

(386) 575-2045 (fax)

Officers Target Unlawful Digging in Florida