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Unpainted Tower Zapped with $20K Fine

Thursday, August 2, 2012

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Owners of a 295-foot communications tower that has stood unpainted and unlighted for 10 years are in trouble with the Federal Communications Commission.

Because visibility and structural integrity for such towers are so important, the FCC has issued a Notice of Apparent Liability and $20,000 fine against owner Renacer Broadcasters Corp. for “failing to paint and light the antenna structure.”

 U.S. Air Force / Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte

 U.S. Air Force / Senior Airman Christina D. Ponte

Federal regulations require that antenna structures more than 200 feet tall be painted, lighted and maintained. Here, Senior Airman Robert Oehmke performs maintenance on a tower at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ.

The fine is double the FCC’s normal penalty. The Renacer structure was erected in 2001 or 2002, and the agency considers the delay egregious, according to the notice issued Wednesday (Aug. 1) by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau office in San Juan.

Tower Painting Regulations

FCC rules state that broadcasters must paint, light and maintain antenna structures that exceed 200 feet.

Acting on a complaint, an FCC agent inspected the Maricao site on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8, 2011, and determined that Renacer’s 90-meter-tall Antenna Structure #1230863 had never been painted or lighted, the notice said.

Ten years out of compliance means that Renacer “apparently willfully and repeatedly” violated both the Communications Act of 1934 and the Commission’s rules, the notice said. Under the FCC’s rules, a “willful” violation does not require an intention to break the law, and a “repeated” violation is one that occurs more than once or on more than one day.

The FCC gave Renacer just 30 days to submit a sworn statement certifying that the tower is in compliance with FCC rules and pay the penalty. A falsified statement could expose the company to perjury charges.

Record Snafu

Unrelated to the painting issue, the FCC raised issues with the tower’s ownership. Although the Commission’s Antenna Structure Registration database lists Santa Morales as the owner of the Renacer tower, the company’s owner told the FCC in December that Morales is his wife, not the owner.

Renacer, which was ordered to correct the information, did not respond to a request for comment.

   

Tagged categories: Maintenance coating work; Protective coatings; Regulations; Tower; Transmission Towers

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