The state Senate approved a measure Tuesday to add liquefied propane to Maine’s Dig Safe law in response to a deadly explosion on Sept. 16, 2019, in Farmington . The bill, which was approved by the House, will go to the governor to be signed. Sun Journal file photo

AUGUSTA — The state Senate voted Tuesday to pass a bill requiring liquefied propane to be added to Maine’s Dig Safe law.

The House of Representatives approved the measure last week.

The bill goes to Gov. Janet Mills to decide if she will sign it into law. Because it is emergency legislation, the bill has to be signed within 10 business days. If she approves, the changes will go into effect immediately.

The addition is in response to last year’s propane explosion at LEAP Inc.’s building on Routes 2 and 27  in Farmington that killed one firefighter, injured six others and a building supervisor.

Danielle Bell Flannery, whose father, Fire Rescue Capt. Michael Bell, died in the Sept. 16, 2019 explosion, testified Jan. 21 at a public hearing on LD 1892 that installation of a bollard, a short safety post near the LEAP building, severed an underground propane line, and that the tragedy was “preventable and never should have happened.”

The explosion “was caused when a bollard was augured into place, slicing open the underground propane line at the LEAP facility,” according to Flannery’s written statement to the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology.

This being an emergency measure, a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate was necessary. The bill, LD 1892, “An Act To Make Changes to the So-called Dig Safe Law, was submitted by Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, and co-sponsored by Sen. Russell Black, R-Wilton, and Rep. H. Scott Landry, D-Farmington, in response to the deadly blast.

Findings from the Office of State Fire Marshal released Jan. 24 revealed the explosion was ignited days after an underground propane line was severed during the installation of one of four bollards, or safety posts, drilled into the ground near the building.

Investigators concluded the propane leaked from the severed line and led to the explosion that leveled the LEAP Inc. building. The cause of ignition has not been determined.


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