September 14, 2018

Senators Warren and Markey Call for Congressional Hearing on Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions and Fires

Gas fires and explosions in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover on September 13 have killed one and injured more than two dozen

Boston, MA - As they visit Command Center in Lawrence today and speak with first responders and local and state officials, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) urged leadership of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to hold an immediate hearing on the September 13 gas fires and explosions in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over both the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which regulates natural gas transmission and distribution lines, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which investigates pipeline accidents. Senators Markey and Warren are asking to hear from regulators and the distribution company Columbia Gas to understand how this incident occurred and what must be done to ensure these types of dangerous accidents do not happen again. Columbia Gas of Massachusetts also was responsible for a 2012 explosion in Springfield, Massachusetts, in which 18 people were injured.

"We urge the Committee to call a hearing immediately with representatives from PHMSA, NTSB, and the natural gas distribution industry, including Columbia Gas of Massachusetts and NiSource, in order to examine whether regulators have adequate authority and resources to detect and remedy violations, respond to natural gas accidents in a timely manner, and ensure better operating procedures for companies linked to repeated misconduct," write the Senators in their letter to Chairman John Thune and Ranking Member Bill Nelson.

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.