Monthly Archives: October 2018

Columbia Gas policy change raises questions about its previous oversight

By Matt Rocheleau, Shelley Murphy and Milton J. Valencia, Boston Globe
October 04, 2018

Days after the natural gas calamity in the Merrimack Valley, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts updated internal policies to require additional oversight and safeguards when performing the same underground pipe work that has been suspected as the cause of the disaster.

The edict raises questions about the company’s previous practices, and whether there was a lack of oversight or safeguards at Columbia construction sites on Sept. 13, when a series of explosions and gas fires ripped through three communities, Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren said in a new letter to the utility.

Mark McDonald, president of NatGas Consulting, a Boston-based company that investigates gas explosions, said Columbia Gas’s initial policy failed to follow industry standards and shouldn’t have been approved by the DPU.
He said the DPU should have acted as a “stop gap” to prevent Columbia Gas’s “failure to enforce the safe industry minimum standard.”

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