MetroNet stops digging in Carmel and Fishers after regulators discover use of unlicensed contractors

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MetroNet's fiber optic construction area in Carmel. Work has stopped until contractor safety training is completed.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission’s Pipeline Safety Division has asserted that MetroNet was using unlicensed contractors for its utility work in central Indiana, FOX 59 reports.

The company is installing fiber optic cable in Indiana and Illinois. Leaders in Fishers and Carmel recently halted the company from working in their communities, the TV station reported.

“Well it’s is total carelessness that MetroNet is employing these days,” Senate Utility Committee Chair Jim Merritt was quoted as saying. “These people don’t get it. They don’t get safety. They do not get anything about keeping our neighbors and our community safe and that is just reprehensible.”

The report found MetroNet’s contractors and the gas company Vectren are responsible for 20 gas line ruptures in Carmel and Fishers in the summer.

In 10 of those cases, the contractors did not follow proper digging procedures, in six instances the utility company incorrectly marked the utilities and in four cases everyone was following the rules.

Six of MetroNet’s contractors are responsible for the ruptures and five of them have not registered to work in Indiana with the Secretary of State, according to the report.

The report also said MetroNet withheld information investigators wanted from them, including a list of its contractors and sample contractor contract.

“We need more information from MetroNet. We need to know where they are and what they are going to be doing and come session when we finish with the legislation we won’t have any more MetroNets of the world,” Merritt said.

In a statement, MetroNet president John Cenelli said: “MetroNet takes the IURC’s findings about our contractors seriously, and we support any efforts to improve underground construction, as our goal is always to protect public safety. As a result, we are voluntarily pausing all underground construction in Central Indiana while we conduct further contractor training. We are committed to providing a world-class fiber optic infrastructure in Indiana, and building it in a responsible manner.”

Representatives from Carmel and Fishers both said the cities will not allow MetroNet back into their cities until the company demonstrates any work done in the communities will be accomplished in a more safe and careful manner, FOX59 reported.