Columbia Gas reportedly cut down critical oversight department and ignored staff concerns
Washington (December 16, 2018) – Massachusetts Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren this week asked Columbia Gas to respond to reports that the company had drastically cut resources for the department responsible for monitoring the pressure of the gas distribution system and failed to act after a longtime employee, Bart Maderios, raised concerns that the lack of staff could result in disaster. Maderios, the former manager of Columbia Gas’ meters and regulation department, asserts that the company had cut his department from four employees to one. He also says that the company’s decision to no longer have a technician on site to monitor gas pressure – which could have avoided the September 13 explosions – was driven by a lack of resources. The Columbia Gas meters and regulation department maintains the maps detailing the gas pipeline system and was not consulted in preparing the work plan that led to the Merrimack Valley disaster.
“Columbia Gas prioritized savings over safety and ignored clear concerns from experienced employees, and the people of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover paid a devastating price as a result,” said Senator Markey and Senator Warren. “We are extremely concerned that Columbia Gas failed to heed warnings that Columbia Gas’ decisions to cut critical safety staff could lead to disaster.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
In the letter, the Senators demand answers about whether Mr. Maderios’s concerns were acted upon or raised to the awareness of company leadership, and request additional information and documentation on the current status of the meters and regulation department.
On November 26, Senator Markey hosted a Senate Commerce Committee field hearing in Lawrence with Senator Warren, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (MA-03), Congressman Seth Moulton (MA-06), and Congresswoman-elect Lori Trahan. The hearing was focused on the September 13 natural gas pipeline explosions and fires that killed Leonel Rondon, injured more than two dozen, and damaged more than 100 structures.