Mass. Budgets Statewide Review of Natural Gas Systems

BOSTON (AP) — Gov. Charlie Baker has signed a spending bill that funds a statewide examination of Massachusetts’ natural gas distribution system.

The review was ordered after the Sept. 13 gas explosions that killed one person, injured 25 others and damaged or destroyed dozens of buildings in the Merrimack Valley.

DPU announced in November that it had selected Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems to conduct the independent “comprehensive safety review” of pipeline infrastructure and the operation of natural gas companies throughout the state, and recommend any needed improvements.

The supplemental budget signed Friday by the Republican governor includes $1.5 million for the effort. The state hopes to recover the costs from utilities.

The spending bill totals $136 million and also includes funds for low-income heating assistance, emergency shelters for homeless families and collective bargaining agreements.

Federal authorities say natural gas lines became over-pressurized after Columbia Gas failed to account for critical pressure sensors as workers replaced century-old, cast-iron pipes in Lawrence.

In a preliminary report released Oct. 11, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Columbia Gas failed to require contract repair crews to relocate pressure sensors during natural-gas pipeline work. That resulted in over-pressured lines that caused the explosions and fires.

Critical valves controlling the gas flow were not shut for nearly 3 1/2 hours after the first alarm was raised at Columbia Gas’ monitoring center, according to the NTSB report. The center had no ability to remotely open or close valves on its own, but did notify technicians, it added.

Related News


{{ error }}
{{ comment.comment.Name }} • {{ comment.timeAgo }}
{{ comment.comment.Text }}