Part of the funding will be used to maintain records of underground pipes, helping to prevent another tragedy like the 2019 Farmington explosion.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded $1,046,744 to the State of Maine to help keep the state pipeline system safe. The funding was awarded through the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
“Following the heartbreaking explosion in Farmington last year, we must ensure that our pipelines are a safe and efficient method for transporting the energy needed by homes and businesses in communities across our state,” said Senator Collins. “This important investment in oversight will help prevent future accidents like the Farmington explosion and ensure that Mainers have access to low-cost energy.”
The funding will be allocated as follows:
· The National Partnership for Environmental Technology will receive $458,983 through the Hazardous Materials Instructor Training Grants program to train hazmat instructors in Hazardous Materials Regulations to further train more hazmat employees. Hazmat employees respond to incidents to prevent further harm and are educated on current transport regulations of hazardous materials.
· The Maine Public Utilities Commission will receive $46,738 through the One Call Grant program to help fund the Damage Prevention law, ensuring the commission can maintain a record of all underground pipes throughout the state and fine up to $5,000 per violation. Under the law, anyone doing excavation work should call DigSafe so that member utility companies can mark underground hazards to prevent incidents like the Farmington, Maine explosion.
· The Maine Emergency Management Agency will receive $195,018 through the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Grants program to develop or revise emergency plans and training activities to account for bulk transportation of energy products by rail and over the road.
· The State of Maine will receive $346,005 through the Pipeline Safety State Base program to provide a reimbursement of up to 80 percent of operating costs for state programs charged with inspecting intrastate transmission and distribution pipelines that transport natural gas, crude oil, and other energy products within state boundaries.
Created in 2004, PHMSA establishes national policy, sets and enforces standards, educates, and conducts research to prevent incidents. The agency also prepares the public and first responders to reduce consequences if an incident does occur.