AUGUSTA, Maine — On Tuesday, Maine legislature unanimously approved Rep. Seth Berry’s (D-Bowdoinham) bill that would include liquefied propane (LP) gas lines in Maine’s so-called “Dig Safe” laws. Berry is the House chair of the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee.
After passing unanimously in the House and Senate, the measure was sent to Gov. Janet Mills' desk for her signature.
The bill is designed to make digging in Maine safer and comes in response to the LEAP Inc. explosion in Farmington last year that killed a firefighter and injured six others and a building supervisor.
“Dig Safe” laws prohibit digging around certain underground utility lines, and currently in Maine, LP lines are not currently on the prohibited list.
According to findings from the Farmington Fire Marshal’s report, the LP line near the site of the explosion had been damaged by digging in the vicinity.
Danielle Bell Flannery, whose father, Fire Capt. Michael Bell, died in the explosion, testified in favor of the bill.
“I’m grateful to my colleagues for recognizing the danger of LP lines and taking quick, decisive and unified action to include them in our “Dig Safe” laws,” Berry in a statement. “I’m relieved we’ll be making Mainers safer and potentially preventing another tragedy like Farmington.”
According to the press release, previous bills that sought to include LP lines in the “Dig Safe” measure failed in the Legislature; those versions of the bill exempted smaller LP tanks, including the size of the tank in Farmington.
Berry’s bill doesn’t include any exemptions.