October 24, 2019

Senator Warren Statement on Final NTSB Report on Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions

Damning Report Confirms Multiple Failures, Negligence by Columbia Gas Led to Explosions

Full Report (PDF)

Lawrence, MA - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today issued the following statement on the National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) final report on its investigation into the Merrimack Valley gas disaster on September 13, 2018. The NTSB will hold a public briefing tomorrow with the Merrimack Valley community to discuss the results of its investigation.

"The NTSB's final report on last year's gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley confirmed what we already knew -- the carelessness of Columbia Gas and NiSource led to this tragic disaster. However, as last month's dangerous gas leak that displaced residents in Lawrence showed, these companies have yet to demonstrate that they are able to ensure the safety of the communities they serve. We must do more to increase pipeline safety standards and protect our families from future disasters -- that means implementing all of the recommendations outlined in the NTSB's report, immediately passing the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act, and continuing to hold executives accountable for tragedies like these."

Since the September 13, 2018 gas explosions, Senators Warren and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), and Representative Trahan (D-MA-03) have been working with community leaders like Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera to hold Columbia Gas and NiSource accountable. Their oversight helped ensure the companies safely restored gas service to residents and businesses and made needed repairs to infrastructure. They also helped successfully secure emergency assistance for the region's small businesses impacted by the disaster, sent a letter to Columbia Gas decrying the large backdated gas bills for impacted families, and led a hearing in November 2018 on the disaster. Their legislation, the Leonel Rondon Pipeline Safety Act, would make sure that companies like Columbia Gas and NiSource prioritize safety over speed and profits.

Following the major gas leak in Lawrence last month, which forced over 300 residents to evacuate their homes in the middle of the night and cut off power to over 1,300 customers, Senators Warren, Markey and Representative Trahan wrote to Columbia Gas and NiSource asking the companies to provide a briefing on the cause of and response to the incident.