Published: Mon, September 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Columbia Gas Parent Company ‘Fully Cooperating’ With NTSB Probe, CEO Says

Columbia Gas Parent Company ‘Fully Cooperating’ With NTSB Probe, CEO Says

A pipeline controller working at a console in Columbus, Ohio, noticed the pressure increase in a pipeline in Lawrence, Massachusetts, one of the three towns where the fires occurred, Sumwalt told CNN's Alison Kosik.

CreditSights Inc. analysts said Friday in a note that the MA incident "appears to have been caused by the utility working on the gas lines immediately before the explosions occurred".

Gov. Charlie Baker and other officials announced Sunday morning that people in Lawrence, North Andover and Andover were cleared to return home.

Investigators suspected the fires were caused by "over-pressurisation of a gas main" belonging to Columbia Gas lines.

"We still have a very long way to go, but we're very happy that people can return to their homes this morning", Baker said.

The National Transportation Safety Board, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Massachusetts Fire Marshal's office, and Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating the gas leaks and explosions.

Joe Hamrock CEO of NiSource parent company of Columbia Gas said Sunday Sept. 16 2018 that the company accepts responsibility for the blast and fires that rocked three Merrimack Valley communities Thursday
Massachusetts gas explosions reminiscent of 1992 Chicago incident

"We all express our honest regret and commitment to restoring lives in the Merrimack Valley in the days and weeks ahead", Hamrock said.

Officials said gas company technicians will turn all the meters back after safety inspections of the entire system are complete - a process expected to take several weeks. The entire town of Andover was evacuated. "I often say the people of the Commonwealth are resilient-and this devastating situation is no exception".

Government records reveal at least three other serious explosions in Massachusetts, West Virginia and OH have been linked to Columbia Gas.

Mayor Daniel Rivera of Lawrence, one of the affected towns, said of the company, "It just seemed like there's no one in charge, like they're in the weeds, and they've never seen this before". A chimney fell onto the vehicle, they said, when the home, on Chickering Road, exploded.

Utility President Steve Bryant later defended the company's performance, saying the company had remained in constant touch with state and federal officials.

"It looked like Armageddon, it really did", said Andover Fire Rescue Chief Michael B. Mansfield. The company a subsidiary of NiSource, a utility company that serves more than three million customers in seven states.

Relentless rain threatens North Carolina agricultural town
The operations were made more perilous by fallen trees and power lines; officials didn't expect power to be restored for weeks. More than 10 million people are under hurricane watches or warnings and 1.7 million have been ordered to evacuate the coast.

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