The Manchester company that installed a safety post which pierced an underground propane line and caused a deadly explosion in Farmington last year will pay the state a $1,000 fine.
The Lewiston Sun Journal reports that Michael Brochu, owner and president of Techno Metal Post Maine of Manchester, signed the document April 28, but it is not an admission to or agreement with legal conclusions cited in a notice of enforcement investigation issued by Barry Truman, damage prevention investigator for Maine Public Utilities Commission. Truman signed it Wednesday.
Brochu could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The explosion on Sept. 16 killed Farmington fire Capt. Michael Bell, injured seven others, destroyed nearby homes, scattered debris for more than a mile and was reported to be heard as far away as Livermore, more than 30 miles away.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the owner of the building, LEAP, Inc., $12,145 for one violation of “general safety and health provisions” in March. Both were fined because they did not “initiate and maintain programs” for frequent and regular inspections of the job site, material and equipment, according to OSHA’s citations.
They also failed to ensure a “competent person” inspected the job site prior to the post’s installation. The status of the cases was unclear on Thursday, the Sun Journal reports.
Truman issued a citation Dec. 23, 2019, citing Techno Metal Post for not properly notifying Dig Safe of excavation and not properly premarking the area of excavation.
The Maine fire marshal’s office confirmed in January that the explosion occurred after Techno drilled several 10-foot posts into the ground about 5 feet from the building to protect a nearby outdoor air conditioning unit, six days before the explosion.
The propane line was buried about 3 feet underneath the parking lot and connected the propane tank to the building. The tank had been filled the Friday before the explosion on Monday, Sept. 16, when LEAP maintenance supervisor Larry Lord reported smelling gas that day. He got workers out of the building before calling for help.
Lord and several firefighters were injured in the explosion. Lord returned home in April after seven months of hospitalization.
Brochu did not contest the $1,000 civil penalty, according to the agreement, which is contingent upon PUC approval. Once the fine is received, the commission will issue an order, Harry Lanphear, administrative director for the PUC, said.