Senators Markey and Warren Demand Answers About Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions and Fires
After touring impacted communities last week, Senators are calling for detailed information from Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, parent company NiSource, and PHMSA
Washington (September 17, 2018) – With thousands of families in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts facing weeks or months without gas, Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today called on Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, NiSource, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to provide answers about the September 13, 2018 natural gas explosions in Lawrence, North Andover, and Andover, Massachusetts that killed one and injured dozens. Columbia Gas of Massachusetts and its parent company NiSource are the gas provider for the impacted homes, and PHMSA is ultimately responsible for issuing and enforcing minimum safety regulations for both interstate and intrastate pipelines.
In their letters, Senators Markey and Warren request documents, including unredacted versions of the company’s Integrity Management Plan and any emergency response plan. The senators also ask for responses to a series of questions about reports that a Columbia Gas control room registered an over-pressurization of the pipeline system on Thursday and any notifications and alarms that may have been triggered, when the incident was reported to federal and local authorities as required, and details on work Columbia Gas may have been performing on the pipeline system, among other issues. The Senators request the information be submitted to their offices by September 19.
“It is imperative that the people of the Commonwealth are provided an understanding of what caused this disaster and how you responded to it, in order to ensure that we never again face a similar tragedy,” write the Senators in their letters to the companies.
The day after the explosions and fires, Senators Markey and Warren urged leadership of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to hold an immediate hearing on the accident. The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over both PHMSA, which regulates natural gas transmission and distribution lines, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which investigates pipeline accidents.