Washington (January 3, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which has jurisdiction over the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), released the following statement. Due to the Trump-caused government shutdown, the NTSB investigation into the September 13 Merrimack Valley natural gas explosions and fires has been put on hold due to a lapse in funding for transportation and housing agencies. 


“The unnecessary Trump shutdown is shutting down justice for the residents of the Merrimack Valley impacted by the Columbia Gas disaster,” said Senator Markey.“We need to fund government and provide the NTSB the resources it needs to complete its investigation and compile a comprehensive account of the safety lapses that led to the deadly disaster in Merrimack Valley. Without the results of this investigation, the people of this community cannot hope to move forward. The residents of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover have already had to wait too long for answers; they should not have to wait any longer.


“In light of this ongoing delay from the shutdown, Columbia Gas and NiSource must be even more diligent in preserving all the information that federal investigators might need in completing its investigation.”


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.