A state agency has fined the city of Liberty $60,000 for repeated failure to check for leaks in the city-owned natural gas system.
The Public Service Commission announced the fine Tuesday.
The PSC ordered the county seat for Casey County to pay $10,000 of the fine within 30 days, according to a news release.
The PSC suspended the other $50,000 until Jan. 1, 2023, contingent on conditions that include the city hiring a contractor to do the required leak surveys and providing reports on that work and on repairs.
If the city complies, the $50,000 will be forgiven.
Federal safety rules require natural-gas distribution systems like the one Liberty operates to search for leaks annually in central business districts and every two to three years in other areas. The PSC enforces those federal rules.
Liberty completed only six of 19 required leak surveys from 2003 through 2016, even though city officials assured regulators the city would do the surveys, the PSC said in its news release.
“Liberty has a history of attempting to excuse the failure to perform the required leakage survey,” the agency said in its order.
The city could have been fined up to $2 million for the violations, the PSC said.
Liberty argued for a smaller penalty and asked to have the entire amount suspended if the city complied with the rules going forward.
The PSC declined to suspend the entire amount, citing the number and history of the violations and the potential dangerous consequences of failing to detect leaks, according to the news release.