Columbia Gas must shoulder burden
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.