LOS ANGELES, Oct. 12, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 297 (Durazo) into law. This bill will enact the Wade Kilpatrick Gas Safety and Workforce Adequacy Act of 2021, prescribing increased civil penalties to operators or excavators who violate provisions relating to excavations and subsurface installations and cause damage to underground utility infrastructure. SB 297 includes additional measures to promote safety and reliability while preventing repeat offenders from hitting natural gas or hazardous liquid pipelines. SoCalGas issued the following statement to the media in response:
"On behalf of our over 8,000 employees, we want to thank Gov. Newsom and Sen. Durazo for their leadership in helping to keep our employees safe with the passage of the Wade Kilpatrick Gas Safety and Workforce Adequacy Act of 2021 (SB 297). We take extraordinary precautions before, during and after the job to make sure the job is done safely, and this bill will extend that effort to all contractors.
"In July 2019, we were saddened by the tragic loss of Wade Kilpatrick, a SoCalGas employee, who died while responding to a damaged gas pipeline. The damage was reportedly caused by a contractor who hadn't called 811 before beginning work.
"Our hope is that increased penalties will influence more people to contact 811. The simple act of contacting 811 before beginning any excavation work can save lives, protect our community, prevent costly repairs and deter emissions reduction efforts.
Statement from Utility Union Workers of America Local 132
Statement may be attributed to: Eric Hoffman, President, Local 132
"Our brothers and sisters of UWUA Local 132 make safety our number one priority. We work tirelessly to keep natural gas safe, affordable, and reliable for small businesses and families across Southern California and, if need be, we fight for the public's safety in Sacramento.
"The Wade Kilpatrick Gas Safety Act will help battle irresponsible contractors that endanger lives, while simultaneously promoting good paying union jobs, and a safe environment. This legislation increases fines and penalties to reckless contractors who repeatedly damage gas infrastructure and fail to follow the proper safety protocols. We want to thank Governor Newsom, Senator Durazo, and the Legislature for passing this common-sense safety reform.