Washington (September 13, 2023) - Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representatives Lori Trahan (MA-03) and Seth Moulton (MA-06) marked the five-year anniversary of the Merrimack Valley gas explosions by calling on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to strongly implement the safeguards included in the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act. The legislation, introduced by the lawmakers following the explosions that devastated Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover, was passed into law in 2020 and includes significant reforms to pipeline safety standards to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.
“Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Merrimack Valley natural gas distribution system disaster. On that day, the unimaginable struck the communities of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover, when a series of natural gas explosions claimed the life of 18-year-old Leonel Rondon, injured more than twenty people, and led 50,000 residents to be asked to evacuate across the region,” the lawmakers wrote. “To help prevent a similar catastrophe from ever happening again, we introduced the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act in April 2019. The bill, which was signed into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, emphasized safety measures designed to stop such disasters before they ever begin, such as requiring that qualified employees approve any changes to pipeline systems and monitor gas system pressure on-site during construction.”
“Since the bill’s passage, we greatly appreciate the work the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has undertaken to implement this lifesaving legislation,” the lawmakers continued. “We were glad to see PHMSA’s announcement last month of a proposed rulemaking, as required by the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act, which would help improve the safe operation of millions of miles of pipelines across the country. We applaud this work and encourage PHMSA to finalize the strongest possible regulations to keep our communities safe. Unfortunately, the alternative is the unthinkable – another community being forced to endure the devastation we experienced five years ago.”
On September 13, 2018, a series of gas pipeline explosions devastated communities in the Merrimack Valley, killing 18-year-old Leonel Rondon and injuring dozens of others. More than 100 homes and businesses across the region were damaged, and tens of thousands of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover residents were forced to evacuate.
In the months after the explosions, Trahan, Markey, Warren, and Moulton introduced the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act, legislation designed to prevent a similar catastrophe from happening to another community by:
A copy of the letter sent today can be accessed HERE.