FARMINGTON — The owner of a company that installed safety posts outside a building leveled in a propane explosion last year has signed an agreement with the state to pay a $1,000 fine.

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.

Truman issued a citation Dec. 23, 2019, citing the company for not properly notifying Dig Safe of excavation and not properly premarking the area of excavation at LEAP Inc.’s building at 313 Farmington Falls Road in Farmington, the site of the fatal explosion on Sept. 16, 2019.

The company installed three bollards on Sept. 10, 2019, according to Truman. The installation of the safety posts met the definition of “excavation” contained in the commission’s rules on Underground Facility Damage Prevention requirements, according to Truman’s notice.

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.

Following a monthslong investigation, the Office of the State Fire Marshal issued a statement in January, saying the explosion occurred days after an underground propane line was severed during the installation of one of the bollards drilled into the ground near the building by an employee of Techno Metal Post.

The propane line, which connected to a propane tank, was buried beneath LEAP’s parking lot.

The explosion killed Farmington Fire Capt. Michael Bell, injured six firefighters and LEAP employee Larry Lord.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration cited Maine Techno Post and LEAP for violations of health and safety. Both companies “failed to ensure that a competent person inspected the job site to determine the location of underground hazards prior to allowing the ground to be penetrated and installing bollards,” according to OSHA.

LEAP has paid its $12,000 fine, according to OSHA.

The Maine Department of Labor cited the town of Farmington for failing to ensure firefighters had proper training and equipment when they investigated the smell of propane at the building.


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