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MetroNet releases new safety procedures, resumes work in some communities

ZIONSVILLE, Ind. – After several cities in Hamilton County stopped MetroNet’s contractors from digging this summer following dozens of ruptured gas lines, two central Indiana communities have given the company the go-ahead to resume work.

Westfield, Carmel and Fishers all ordered MetroNet to stop installing the fiber optic lines in neighborhoods earlier this year.

Westfiled gave the company the go-ahead last week following its commitment to several new safety procedures and the Zionsville Mayor said MetroNet is welcome to begin work there when they are ready.

“I think there adjustments are very good. Like I said, gas line breaks happen all the time. MetroNet is not immune, no one is immune from it,” Zionsville Mayor Tim Haak said. “We’re very comfortable with MetroNet as well as our other utility providers and their safety plans. We recently had Vectren come in and replace all the old gas lines in the village. It went off very well and MetroNet has a great relationship with Vectren. They are both comfortable with the safety plan as we are.”

However, State Senator and Senate Utility Chair Jim Merritt believes the company has not done enough to ensure the safety of citizens.

“It’s all about proof. It’s about saying, ‘I get it. We are going to follow these instructions,' and right now they have demonstrated no responsibly that they get it,” Merritt said. “I’m very fearful for the citizens of Indiana where MetroNet is trying to install Fiber.”

Merritt is planning to introduce legislation next session that would put tighter controls on telecommunication companies installing utilities around the state.

“It’s a great product. It’s a fast service, but we want people safe. We want no deaths,” Merritt added.

In a statement today MetroNet listed five new safety procedures the company has installed after the mishaps this summer.

  • We require all contractors to provide documentation regarding their weekly safety training programs.
  • We require all construction project managers and engineers to participate in the Safe Dig Indiana training sponsored by the IURC or similar training.
  • We have formed a Safety Committee of senior executives that reviews safety performance and strike reports.
  • We have added a position to  our existing safety team, Director of Safety and Quality Assurance, to focus on safe excavation and construction practices.
  • We are increasing our participation in industry groups such as Indiana Damage Prevention Council, Common Ground Alliance, and IURC Pipeline Safety Stakeholder Group.

Carmel has hired a utility attorney to negotiate conditions MetroNet must meet before they are allowed to resume work in the city.

Fishers officials did not return comments today on when they expect to allow MetroNet back into their community.