May 2019, Vol. 246, No. 5

Global News

Mass. Budgets Statewide Review of Natural Gas Systems

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed a spending bill that funds a statewide examination of Massachusetts’ natural gas distribution system, a review that was ordered after last September’s gas explosions near Boston that killed one person, injured 25 others and damaged or destroyed dozens of buildings.

A supplemental budget signed by Gov. Baker includes $1.5 million for the independent “comprehensive safety review” of pipeline infrastructure and the operation of natural gas companies throughout the state, along with recommendations for any needed improvements. The state hopes to recover the costs from utilities.  

Federal authorities say natural gas lines became over-pressurized after Columbia Gas failed to account for critical pressure sensors as workers replaced century-old, cast-iron pipes in Lawrence. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a preliminary report that critical valves controlling the gas flow were not shut for nearly 3½ hours after the first alarm at Columbia Gas’ monitoring center, which had no ability to remotely open or close valves on its own.

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