Fishers officials halt utility project after contractors hit six gas lines in a month

FISHERS, Ind. – City leaders in Fishers have issued a no-dig order for MetroNet, a communications company, after its contractors busted six gas lines while installing fiber optic cable within the last month.

"We’re going to address it head-on, but right now we don’t have enough information from (MetroNet), the utility or from our (911) calls to identify what exactly (the problem) is," Fishers Fire Department Chief Steve Orusa said. "But we’re going to help them with an improvement plan and hopefully eliminate this from happening again.”

The sixth pipe burst Thursday morning near the Fox Run subdivision in Fishers causing city leaders to stop the company from digging immediately.

City officials previously stopped MetroNet and its contractors from digging last Friday. The two groups met Monday to form a new procedure for digging that would prevent crews from rupturing gas lines. However, MetroNet said a contractor was not following the new procedures Thursday and hit a line. The company fired the contractor on the spot.

"MetroNet was extremely disappointed to learn today that one of its contractors inadvertently made contact with a gas line in the Fox Run subdivision in the City of Fishers," MetroNet Spokesman Keith Leonhardt said in a prepared statement. "This incident occurred despite MetroNet mandating that its contractors utilize hydro-excavating procedures to locate gas lines.  Because this directive was disregarded, the crew responsible for the incident was terminated on the spot.  Additionally, MetroNet has halted all construction in the City of Fishers and is taking measures to reinforce and confirm that its contractors are following proper construction procedures."

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has confirmed it's investigating the situation.

IURC Chairman James D. Atterholt said in a statement Thursday, "I spoke with both State Senator Jim Merritt and Fishers Deputy Mayor Leah McGrath this morning and assured them that the Commission takes all pipeline safety violations very seriously and has already begun its investigation into the incidents. Our Pipeline Safety Division was onsite in Fishers earlier today seeking information from all parties related to these ongoing incidents, and the Commission continues to monitor MetroNet and its contracted excavators as the investigation moves forward.”

Senator Merritt says he now plans to investigate state laws to see if there is legislation needed to help municipalities avoid these issues in the future.

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