Senator Markey Statement on NTSB Merrimack Valley Disaster Investigation Final Report
Markey decries revelation that gas pressures reached between 100 to 150 times higher than they should have been in the pipeline system
Markey announces NTSB will come to Lawrence to make presentation at his request
Washington (September 24, 2019) – As the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts commemorates the one-year anniversary this month of the deadly natural gas explosions and fires that took the life of Leonel Rondon, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement on the final report of the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB), the federal agency investigating the disaster. In April, Senators Markey and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Rep. Lori Trahan (MA-03) introduced the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act, legislation that responds to deficiencies uncovered during the Senators’ investigation into the September 13, 2018 disaster. Large portions of that legislation were passed out of the Senator Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in July.
“This report provides two important things that Merrimack Valley residents and the Rondon family richly deserve: a thorough explanation of what went wrong, as well as concrete steps to keep a similar catastrophe from ever happening again. NiSource’s reckless actions and our loophole-ridden pipeline safety regulations led to death and disaster, with gas pressures reaching between 100 to 150 times higher than they should have been in that system. The NTSB final report confirms what Senator Warren and I found during our investigation – that this disaster was not inevitable, it was preventable.
“No pipeline company should ever be allowed to cut corners on safety in order to cut down on costs, and no safety regulator should be allowed to look the other way when it comes to ensuring the pipelines traveling between our homes, schools, and businesses are safe. At my request, the NTSB will be coming to Lawrence in early October, where they will be discussing their findings directly with those in the affected communities. I look forward to having that discussion with the NTSB and the communities.
“My legislation with Senator Warren and Rep. Trahan addresses all the same issues as the NTSB recommendations. I will keep fighting in the Senate to ensure that we take the lessons of this tragedy and turn them into the law of our land so that a disaster like this never happens again.”
On November 26, 2018, Senator Markey hosted a Senate Commerce Committee field hearing in Lawrence with Senator Warren, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), then-Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (MA-03), Congressman Seth Moulton (MA-06), and Congresswoman Trahan 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.