Published: Mon, September 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

No evidence MA gas blasts were intentional, investigator says

No evidence MA gas blasts were intentional, investigator says

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency for the area and put Eversource Energy, another utility, in charge of recovery efforts after state and local officials said they were unsatisfied with Columbia Gas' response.

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".

A preliminary investigation determined the blaze on Diamond Street was unrelated to the gas leaks that forced thousands of residents from their homes, Lawrence Fire Chief Brian Moriarty said.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency gave residents of three cities the all clear to return home on Sunday after a series of gas explosions set the area ablaze.

The local utility in that area shut down all power in the three towns for the gas lines to be depressurized.

More news: ‘Phenomenal’ 83-foot wave detected in Hurricane Florence

The CEO for the parent company of Columbia Gas said at a Sunday press conference that the organization is fully cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to determine what caused devastating fires and explosions in the Merrimack Valley. "It makes us very thankful". Hundreds of natural gas technicians were to descend on the towns in the coming days to restore gas service safely before electricity could be turned on, state officials said. Vermont Gas is not connected to the system in MA.

Mayor Daniel Rivera of Lawrence, one of the affected towns, said of the company, "It just seemed like there's no one in charge, like they're in the weeds, and they've never seen this before". Leonel Rondon, 18, died after a chimney fell on his vehicle in Lawrence. The remaining displaced residents, which officials say are in the thousands, likely stayed with friends and family, Red Cross spokesman Jeff Hall said. He died at a hospital, authorities said.

NiSource is one of the largest natural gas utilities in the United States, serving more than 3.4 million customers in seven states, according to its website.

Gas service is not being restored at this time.

Like this: