Columbia Gas must shoul­der bur­den

Boston Herald - - HERALD OPINION -

Columbia Gas must bear the full bur­den for the dam­age done to the Mer­ri­mack Val­ley a month ago.

The Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board re­leased its pre­lim­i­nary re­port yes­ter­day on the cat­a­strophic gas sys­tem fail­ure last month that caused dozens of fires in Lawrence, An­dover and North An­dover and killed a teenager, stat­ing that Columbia signed off on all the work its con­trac­tor was do­ing that re­sulted in the lines be­com­ing over­pres­sur­ized.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, “Columbia Gas de­vel­oped and ap­proved the work pack­age ex­e­cuted on the day of the ac­ci­dent. The work pack­age did not ac­count for the lo­ca­tion of the sens­ing lines or re­quire their re­lo­ca­tion to en­sure the reg­u­la­tors were sens­ing ac­tual sys­tem pres­sure. The work was per­formed in ac­cor­dance with steps laid out in the work pack­age. In light of this ac­ci­dent, Columbia Gas im­ple­mented a safety stand­down for all em­ploy­ees who per­form work re­lated to low-pres­sure nat­u­ral gas sys­tems for NiSource sub­sidiaries.”

The re­port de­tails the catas­tro­phe: “On Septem­ber 13, 2018, about 4:00 p.m. eastern day­light time, a se­ries of ex­plo­sions and fires oc­curred af­ter high-pres­sure nat­u­ral gas was re­leased into a low-pres­sure gas dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem in the north­east re­gion of the Mer­ri­mack Val­ley in the state of Mass­a­chu­setts. … One per­son was killed and at least 21 in­di­vid­u­als, in­clud­ing 2 fire­fight­ers, were trans­ported to the hos­pi­tal. Seven other fire­fight­ers re­ceived mi­nor in­juries.”

Columbia said in a state­ment, “The com­pany is fully co­op­er­at­ing with the NTSB and pro­vided in­for­ma­tion to as­sist in its on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion into rel­e­vant facts re­lated to the event, the prob­a­ble cause, and its de­vel­op­ment of safety rec­om­men­da­tions.”

The gas ex­plo­sions left 10,000 res­i­dents with­out heat and hot wa­ter.

Scores of busi­nesses were shut down. The mone­tary toll will be tab­u­lated com­pre­hen­sively down the road and the emo­tional dam­age in­flicted on res­i­dents will re­main for some time.

When all is said and done, Columbia Gas will have to set­tle the tab.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.