A Puyallup communications company owes a penalty for violating the state’s “Call Before You Dig” law, resulting in the puncture of a jet fuel pipeline, spilling thousands of gallons of fuel into Tacoma streets.
The Utilities and Transportation Commission fined SEFNCO Communications $10,000 for the August 2017 incident. While drilling to install a cable line near Pacific Avenue, the company hit and punctured the 6-inch McChord Pipeline that transports jet fuel from a Tacoma tide flats refinery to Joint Base Lewis McChord.
Approximately 7,500 gallons of jet fuel leaked from the pipeline, 6,500 gallons of which was ultimately recovered. SEFNCO also hit and caused minor damage to a 10-inch Tacoma water main.
Investigators determined SEFNCO failed to provide the required notice to a one-number locator service before excavating, despite having a significant history of requesting utility locates, and recommended the commission issue the maximum penalty for the company’s negligence. The company did not respond to the commission’s notice of the penalty, forfeiting options to contest the violation or request a mitigated penalty; SEFNCO must now pay the entire $10,000 penalty, which was originally due in December 2017.