Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Gas company linked to explosions in Massachusetts, West Virginia, Ohio

Gas company linked to explosions in Massachusetts, West Virginia, Ohio

It's still not clear what caused dozens of natural gas explosions that rocked three MA towns Thursday.

Investigators suspected the fires were caused by "over-pressurisation of a gas main" belonging to Columbia Gas lines.

In April this year, NiSource's Columbia Gas of MA filed a petition with the state's Department of Public Utilities to increase annual revenues in order to help the company replace aging infrastructure.

CreditSights Inc. analysts said Friday in a note that the MA incident "appears to have been caused by the utility working on the gas lines immediately before the explosions occurred". NiSource spokesman Ken Stammen said he couldn't provide any details on Saturday's leak.

Without gas service, many residents in North Andover, Andover, and Lawrence will be without heat, hot water or the ability to cook.

A Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation natural gas pipeline burst in West Virginia in 2012 and NTSB investigators determined that external corrosion, which could have been discovered by the pipeline operator, was at fault.

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One person remained in critical condition and was transported to a Boston trauma center, officials said during a press conference.

Leonel Rondon, an 18-year-old from Lawrence, died after an explosion sent a chimney crashing into his vehicle, the Associated Press reported. About 18,000 customers lost power, National Grid reported.

At least 25 people were treated for injuries.

"Utility technicians must do their jobs in order to make sure everyone has a safe place to return to", Baker said.

Almost all residents in the area have had power restored, he said. "However, it will take a number of years to eliminate the aging pipe from the gas distribution system".

Columbia said in a statement that crews would visit each of the 8,600 affected customers to shut off gas meters and carry out safety inspections.

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