Columbia Gas Incident, Sept. 13, 2018

Starting around 4:15 PM, customers of Columbia Gas in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover started experiencing explosions and fires. Up to as many as 70 properties were damaged or destroyed, one person killed when a chimney collapsed onto the car he was sitting in in the driveway, about two dozen injured.
See news listed below for updates on recovery and other developments.

COLUMBIA GAS CLAIMS CENTER – 800-590-5571 & in person assistance at Lawrence Public Library starting on Sunday 9/16. Third video in this story is Columbia Gas announcement for affected residents.

» EverSource Merrimack Valley Incident Updates
After declaring a state of emergency, Governor Baker put EverSource in charge of the recovery effort. (Click link above for updates from Eversource. Select Eastern Region if prompted.)

SOME WAYS TO HELP:

Lawrence Emergency Fund from the Essex Country Community Foundation, long established community aid is actively taking donations.

• Shelters in all three municipalities will remain open until everyone is back home, said authorities. The shelters are: the senior center in Lawrence at 155 Haverhill St.; Andover: Senior Center and Youth Center, 30 Whittier Court; North Andover: at the high school, 430 Osgood St. Check with any of them to see what they need / how you can help.

AG Healey Offers Resources and Advice to Residents in the Aftermath of Gas Explosions and Fires in the Merrimack Valley
Includes Tips for Homeowners Who Suffered Damage, Tips for Displaced Renters and where to Make Smart, Safe Charitable Contributions to Support Victims
– For more information or assistance, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy & Response Division’s Consumer Hotline at 617-727-8400. They are open from Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

From WCVB:

  • If you live in the affected areas, you can dial 211 from any phone to get updates. Translation is available.
  • If you need help with a pet, MSPCA-Angell’s Nevins Farm is accepting pets. You can drop off a pet at 400 Broadway, Methuen. Call 978-687-7453 ext 6101.
  • North Andover Town Manager Andrew Maylor said the high school shelter would accept food donations for the displaced.
  • The Lawrence Senior Center is accepting donations and volunteers. They’re at 155 Haverhill St.
  • The Red Cross is accepting volunteers and donations.
  • The Essex County Community Foundation has put together the Lawrence Emergency Fund, which is available at http://www.eccf.org/lawrenceemergencyfund.
  • Also suggested on social media for places that could use donations:

Clean Cooking Now – Fundraiser for immediate relief for households affected by the Columbia Gas explosions and fires by providing electric induction cooktops.
“Gas can not work for the next several weeks to cook & heat water. Cheap, high performing electrical induction can. Let’s get people cooking and boiling water right away.”
This initiative was created by BU Professor Nathan Phillips, one of the researchers who’s been in the trenches investigating gas leaks and their health effects here in Mass and at the Aliso Canyon disaster in California.
» Donate to this GoFundMe today!


» Change.org Petition – Columbia Gas Hold Western MA Public Hearings
Amaad Rivera started this petition to Columbia Gas, Change.org

» 350MA is sponsoring a petition, calling for a halt to all new fracked gas infrastructure until investigations are complete.


NEWS:

» Columbia Gas website page reporting on incident
» EverSource Merrimack Valley Incident Updates

» Columbia Gas to cover customers for all losses related to gas disaster
The Boston Globe, September 22, 2018

Town officials in Andover announced Saturday that the utility company will pay claims related to bodily injury, property damage, disruption of business and other inconveniences caused by loss of gas service.
A statement from Columbia Gas provided by Andover officials says the company will reimburse customers for the cost of switching to alternative fuel sources like electric or oil.

Outline of Claims Handling for Customers Impacted by Natural Gas Event

Andover Town Website Claims Update Page

» Gas infrastructure in Mass.: A recipe for disaster?
By Kay Lazar and Jon Chesto, Boston Globe, September 22, 2018

» Sen. Ed Markey: Columbia Gas is ‘making this up as they’re going along’
By Shira Schoenberg, MassLive, September 21, 2018

» Feds Warned Mass. Had Too Few Inspectors in Weeks Before Merrimack Valley Blasts
By Ally Donnelly, Boston 10, NBC, September 21, 2018

» Columbia Gas Hopes To Have Service Restored By November 19
WBZ CBS Boston, September 21, 2018

» Columbia Gas Aims To Have All Gas Service Restored In Merrimack Valley By Nov. 19: Hotplates and space heaters will be distributed
WBUR, September 21, 2018

» Mass. AG Healey requests investigation into National Grid pipeline safety, DPU cites ongoing investigation into company
By Mary C. Serreze, MassLive, September 21, 2018

» It Could Be Months Before Gas Service Is Fully Restored In The Merrimack Valley
by Bruce Gellerman, WBUR, September 20, 2018

» Columbia Gas withdraws $33 million rate increase
By Jon Chesto, Boston Globe, September 19, 2018

» Who’ll pay to rebuild Columbia Gas network? Maybe the customers
By Jon Chesto, Botson Globe, September 18, 2018

» Columbia Gas donates $10 million to disaster relief fund
by Zoe Mathews, Eagle Tribune September 18, 2018

» Class action lawsuit filed against Columbia Gas, accused of ‘extreme negligence’ in care of pipeline
By Michelle Williams, MassLive, September 18, 2018

» Pressure inside Columbia Gas pipes was 12 times higher than normal
By Matt Rocheleau, Boston Globe, September 17, 2018 

» Tsongas: Federal Investigation Underway Into ‘Terrifying’ Response From Columbia Gas
By Tori Bedford, WGBH Radio, September 17, 2018

» Local officials keeping wary eye on Columbia Gas
By Mary Whitfill, The Patriot Ledger
September 16, 2018

» ‘I’m Just Glad We’re Alive’: Gas Leak Leaves Thousands Displaced and Afraid
By Katharine Q. Seelye, New York Times, September 15, 2018

» Gas workers, firefighters investigating new gas odor in South Lawrence
WCVB, September 15, 2018

» AG Healey: natural gas explosion victims should document their losses
WCVB, September 15, 2018

» Merrimack Valley gas disaster similar to 1990 Danvers emergency 
By Kelsey Bode, Salem News, September 15, 2018

» The City of Lawrence Can’t Breathe.
by Beya J. (Beyazmin Jimenez), Medium.com, September 15, 2018

» Rupture a repeat of West Virginia blast: Columbia Gas-affiliated co. behind 2012 incident
by Brian Dowling, Boston Herald, September 15, 2018

» Natural gas industry faces new test after Merrimack Valley fires
By Jon Chesto, Boston Globe,  September 14, 2018

» ‘We’re talking weeks:’ Merrimack Valley faces long restoration process, officials warn
WCVB, September 14, 2018

» Massachusetts gas explosions shine spotlight on century-old pipelines
Tim McLaughlin, Reuters, September 14, 2018

» Natural gas explosions: Boston-area gas pipes among oldest and leakiest in US
by John Kelly, USA TODAY, September 14, 2018

» Explosions’ cause unclear, but specialists point to gas pressure
David Abel, Boston Globe
September 14, 2018

» Senators Markey and Warren Call for Congressional Hearing on Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions and Fires
Office of Senator Ed Markey, September 14, 2018

» State Of Emergency Declared; Lawrence Mayor Says Gas Company ‘Hiding From The Problem’
CBS Local – Boston, September 14, 2018

» Baker declares state of emergency, puts Eversource in charge of recovery
Boston Globe, September 14, 2018

» After Massachusetts Gas Explosions, Weary Residents Ask, What Happened?
By Katharine Q. Seelye and Farah Stockman, New York Times
September 14, 2018

» Natural gas industry faces new test after Merrimack Valley fires
By Jon Chesto, Boston Globe
September 14, 2018

» What Caused The Gas Explosions In The Merrimack Valley?
By Mary Blake, WGBH, September 14, 2018

» 1 dead, at least 10 injured in Merrimack Valley gas disaster
The Eagle-Tribune, September 14, 2018

» Massachusetts Gas Explosions Recall 1992 Chicago Incident
By Phil Rogers, NBC Chicago, September 14, 2018

» East Boston Gas Explosion, 1983
by CelebrateBoston.com

» Map: Location of the fires, explosions, gas odors in Lawrence area
Boston Globe, September 13, 2018

» Statement From Columbia Gas Regarding Merrimack Valley Explosions
CBS Local, September 13, 2018
*Despite title, Columbia Gas did not make a statement. Statements from many local leaders and Governor, though

» Andover, North Andover, Lawrence schools cancel classes in wake of gas fires
Eagle Tribune, September 13, 2018

» Dozens of gas blasts rock Boston suburbs, killing at least one and injuring others
Eagle Tribune, September 13, 2018

» Dozens of Homes Burn in Andover and Lawrence, Mass., Gas Explosions
By Katharine Q. Seelye, Farah Stockman, Jacey Fortin and Monica Davey
New York Times, September 13, 2018



NOTES:

Locals affected should dial 211 for disaster info.

MSPCA at Nevins Farm is sheltering animals displaced by the explosions. They have updated information on their Facebook page.

• A citizen activist noted that the last time the DPU did a report on a gas explosion associated with Columbia Gas in 2012, they redacted any information on the pressure on the line.
» Download report here

Emergency Response Plan Columbia Gas filed this year with the DPU

• Several hours after the explosions first erupted, reporters asked Governor Baker: “Has Columbia Gas been responsive to you? Are you satisfied what they’ve done so far?” He initially classified their response as “adequate”, before redefining everyone’s response as “incomplete”.
» Watch response on Twitter