Omaha-based Northern Natural Gas and Iowa firm settle explosion suit

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Posted: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 12:00 am

HINTON, Iowa (AP) — An Omaha natural gas pipeline owner and an Iowa construction company have settled a lawsuit filed after a northwest Iowa pipeline explosion nearly a year ago.

Omaha-based Northern Natural Gas Co. had sued DeRocher Construction, of Le Mars, Iowa, for negligence.

The April 25, 2012, blast near Hinton occurred after two DeRocher workers who were using machinery to install drainage tile struck the 24-inch-diameter underground pipeline, rupturing it. They ran and escaped fatal injury before it erupted into a 300-foot-high fireball that could be seen for miles.

Northern later replaced more than 100 feet of damaged line. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office in August fined DeRocher $20,000 for failing to call Iowa One Call to have underground utility lines located before digging.

Northern Natural Gas spokesman Mike Loeffler said the lawsuit and explosion could have been avoided if DeRocher Construction had called the free service.

“We encourage all excavators to make the effort to call their local One Call prior to digging,” he said. “We can help prevent these kinds of incidents.”

A trial date is set for November 12. But court documents filed on April 11 show the parties have entered a confidential settlement. The companies have delayed court proceedings while final settlement details are worked out.

A spokesman for DeRocher declined to comment.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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