LUCC Meeting Minutes April 4, 2019

LUCC Meeting Minutes         

April 4, 2019

Welcome – Secretary Amy Abramson called the meeting to order and welcomed all attendees, President Roman Hernandez joined us shortly after.

Self-Introductions – 18 people were present.

Meeting Minutes –Meeting minutes were approved at the opening of the meeting.

Treasurers Report – Naomi Shirtcliff: collected a few more annual dues from members, and will be reaching out to a few that still need to pay. Postage for the letters were purchased. We just received an invoice for the OUCC meeting that Roman attended last year.

Publicity & Education– Jim Franklin: Didn’t get a chance to send out the publicity letters yet but will be buying stamps and envelopes soon and will give the receipt to Naomi for reimbursement.

Damage Report– Jason Williams: Amy has printed off copies of the letters we sent out after last month’s meetings for you all to read and get familiar with what we are sending out. We sent out four letters. I will be checking to see if those contractors change their practices and start calling in locates, etc. So far, some are doing better, but some aren’t. I have five more letters ready to be sent out and I will be providing a training to Butler Homes. It was mentioned that sub-contractors are being forced to do work last minute without locates, because if they don’t the general contractor will give the work to someone else who will get it done.

There was a mis-located gas line damaged at Kendall Acura car dealership. (NWN)

EWEB discovered a home addition was built on top of their water transmission line.

Web Page– Amy Abramson:  Everything is up to date.

OUCC Standards Review – Rocky Stewart: Not present.

Old Business: subcontractors need to have their own locate because sometimes there is additional information that the utility or locator communicates to the ticket caller. If that info doesn’t get passed along to the subs that are “working under their ticket”, there is potential for damage.

It was mentioned that EWEB had an electric outage and while trying to locate the electric vault, it was discovered the vault had been paved over in an alley way.

New Business:  Roman – OUCC is hiring a tax accountant to cover all of the councils. They are paying for a portion of the cost, but each council needs to pay an additional $200. This will cover 2019-2021. I discussed the letter we are sending to contractors with my supervisor. I didn’t receive any push back on the letter itself but he has some concerns with my signature being on the documents. Romans’ boss also asked why the LUCC is taking on this initiative instead of sending the violators to the PUC. It was said that OSHA is the enforcer for the PUC and we would rather give the contractors an opportunity for education and correction before OSHA has to get involved. But with that said, if they continue to violate the dig laws after we send the letter or if certain circumstances justify it, we can get OSHA involved to follow up.

The room agreed we can sign the letters as “From the members of LUCC”, instead of using Romans signature. Amy will also add lines to insert the date, contractors name and address. And increase the font size of the document.

Program:  Mark Maguire – EWEB Safety Program Administrator – “EWEBs Smart Meter Project”

EWEB is underway with changing out all our meters to AMI Smart meters. With that project we identified a need for a large volume of locates, in order to replace our water meters, per the dig laws, as they are currently written.

A little overview of the project: EWEB will be replacing approximately 20k meters per year, for three years. 5% (1000, per year) of those meters will need the box replaced to accommodate the new meter and an additional 45% (9000 boxes, per year) of those meters need to have the box cleaned out because years of dirt, leaves and other debris has built up over the meters and valves. We have purchased a vac truck with a small 3” suction hose to get inside the meter boxes.

We realized that to abide by the dig laws as they are currently written, we would need to submit locate tickets for every meter box that we used Vac/Hydro excavation to remove the debris from the box. And in doing so, we would be increasing the locate demand by ~10k tickets per year.

EWEBs concern was not only managing that many additional locates but also what demand that would put on our local locators. They would either need to hire more staff or could it potentially delay them in locating more high risk jobs. EWEB wanted to come up with a plan to move forward with only submitting locates for the box replacements, as it requires excavation outside of our box. And to do this we wanted assurance we would be complying with the laws.

To address this we did the following:

We brought the information to the PUC to examine the definition of “excavation” in standard 952.001-0010, and to determine if the intent was being met. The PUC said the definition was not specific enough and left it open to interpretation. It was recommended that we meet with our local council (LUCC) and the OUCC.

Following the Contractors Breakfast, the LUCC officers met with EWEB staff, a PUC representative and an OUCC representative to discuss. It was agreed that there is little risk of damage by using vac excavation to clean out the meter box and that is known to be common practice for pipeline operators to clean out valve boxes without locates. However, since it is not addressed in standards they didn’t feel comfortable giving us the “green light” to proceed. The next step was to present the info at the OUNC board meeting. They agreed the standard was lacking definition for a known common practice. They suggested to proceed as we feel comfortable, and be open / transparent with our local operators and council. In the meantime, they will be adding this as a discussion to the OAR Update Sub Committee, to hopefully update the standards definition of excavation. Vac / Hydro is a common practice for “non-invasive” excavation, yet it is not recognized as such in the definition. As construction practices and techniques advance, our standards should advance with it.

Meeting Adjourned-    12:55 pm

Next Meeting Topic:   Kevin Hennessy – Oregon PUC 

“Education and Enforcement of Damage Prevention: It’s everyone’s responsibility.”