BENTONVILLE -- A company with operations in Northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma will have to pay a $20,000 civil penalty for violating Arkansas law and damaging natural gas lines.
Judge Thomas Smith of the 19th West Circuit Court Division 3 filed a consent judgment penalizing Ground Zero Construction Inc. and its owner Rod Garman on Nov. 20.
Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin's office filed a complaint against Ground Zero and Garman on April 27, according to the consent judgment.
The complaint stated that Ground Zero and Garman damaged gas lines while digging, which violated the Arkansas Underground Facilities Damage Prevention Act and the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Ford submitted the complaint to the 19th West Circuit Court, the judgment states. Afterward, the defendants attended training on underground facilities damage prevention offered by the One Call Center.
According to Arkansas Code Annotated § 17-271-104(a)(2)(A), a person who violates the Arkansas Underground Facilities Damage Prevention Act three or more times in 12 months shall be ordered to pay a civil penalty in the amount up to $10,000 per violation, the judgment states.
Garman and Ground Zero have stipulated the violations occurred for a 12-month period, according to the judgment.
The defendants agreed to fully comply with the Arkansas Underground Facilities Damage Prevention Act going forward, and if they are found to have violated the judgment, they will also have to pay an additional $30,000 in civil penalties that was suspended as part of the judgment along with interest computed from the date the judgment was filed.
"My office is charged with enforcing the Arkansas Underground Facilities Damage Prevention Act, which requires excavators to call the One Call Center, commonly known as 811, before they excavate and timely mark the location of their underground facilities," Griffin said in a press release. "Ground Zero did not comply with the law and, as such, repeatedly put Arkansans in danger. This is why I filed suit against the company in April and why I am pleased with the consent judgment in this case."
Ground Zero Construction declined to comment on the matter or the consent judgment.