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MetroNet excavator hits 2 gas lines in Geneva

City says incidents were minor

GENEVA – A new cable provider in the region, MetroNet, logged two gas line hits while installing fiber optic cable in Geneva just days apart, according to city records.

One gas line was hit at 11:33 a.m. July 30 at Chesapeake Way and Potomac Court, and the other gas line was hit at 11:30 a.m. July 28 at 909 Geneva Drive, city records show.

Geneva Fire Chief Michael Antenore did not return messages seeking comment, but referred all questions about the gas line hits to city spokesman Kevin Stahr.

Neither the city, MetroNet nor Nicor could state what excavator was involved in the gas line hits.

In an email response, Stahr wrote that the city issued permits to MetroNet, not to its subcontractors.

Nicor spokeswoman Jennifer Golz stated in an email that she was “not able to provide a specific name” of a contractor.

“But what I can tell you is that excavations are the No. 1 cause of damage to our facilities in Geneva and throughout the state,” Golz’s email stated. “The Illinois Underground Utility Facilities Damage Prevention Act is designed to help prevent against such occurrences.”

In an email, Kathy M. Scheller, who is in charge of external affairs for MetroNet, also did not name the excavating company.

“Over the last few days, MetroNet contractors have impacted two service lateral gas lines in Geneva,” Scheller’s email stated. “Hand digging in very dry compacted soil contributed to these impacts. In both cases, all proper excavation procedures were followed, as well as proper response procedures involving Nicor and the city of Geneva. The situations resolved quickly and without incident.”

Also according to Scheller’s email, MetroNet’s safe underground construction practices require contractors to notify JULIE, conduct “walkthroughs” to inspect construction areas and to hand dig or hydrovac – a technique using water – to physically locate the utilities.

“In the rare occasion that a utility line is struck, contractors are required to follow a state-mandated process by immediately calling 911, the gas utility, JULIE, and then MetroNet,” Scheller’s email stated. “A MetroNet construction manager is then required to visit the site and make an immediate assessment of the situation.”

The company conducts weekly safety training sessions, and formed a safety committee of senior executives that reviews safety performance and all utility strike reports. MetroNet also added a director of safety and quality assurance to focus on safe excavation and construction practices, the email stated. 

Stahr’s email stated the matter was between Nicor and MetroNet because no city infrastructure was involved.

“The Fire Department has not issued any fees since the hits involved smaller gas lines. The two incidents have been more minor in nature and did not require a significant or extended response from our firefighters,” Stahr’s email stated.

“If a larger gas line were ever struck, there may be a fee assessed to the responsible party to reimburse the city for manpower and equipment expenses associated with hazardous incident response,” Stahr’s email stated.

The Kane County Chronicle filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the Geneva Fire Department incident reports and other records related to the two gas line hits.

The Chronicle also filed a Freedom of Information Act request to Tri-Comm Central Dispatch for the 911 recordings reporting the gas line hits.

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