Summit Natural Gas of Maine will pay $307,000 in fines to the state for the February 2016 gas leak in Augusta and for other safety violations, according to the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
The gas leak that was labeled potentially “catastrophic” occurred February 17 near a shopping plaza in Augusta and was caused by an unmarked underground electrical line that burned a hole in the gas line. The leak forced the evacuations of buildings at the Western Avenue shopping area and was repaired the following morning.
While investigating the leak, officials found that Summit failed to maintain the required clearance from other utility facilities. The Maine PUC reported in its findings that the safety violations had resulted from construction work by the company and subcontractors since 2013.
The commission said its investigation may have prompted the gas company to more thoroughly examine its management and contracting practices, adding that Summit overhauled its quality assurance processes, its oversight of subcontractors, and internal company training and construction manual.
The company also hired a new CEO, Kurt Adams, in 2015.
In a statement, Adams says the company has strengthened pipeline safety standards and will focus on providing “safe, reliable, and clean-burning natural gas.”