October 18, 2018

Warren, Markey Query Columbia Gas On Uninhabitable Homes Following Merrimack Valley Disaster

Company Has Provided Inconsistent or Incomplete Estimates of Damage

Text of the Letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today requested information from Columbia Gas on the number of homes that remain uninhabitable and number of residents that remain displaced in the aftermath of the Merrimack Valley gas explosions last month.

The September 13 explosions and fires resulted in the death of one teenager, injured approximately 25 others, and damaged or destroyed dozens of homes.  In the weeks following the explosions, the senators have received inconsistent or incomplete estimates from Columbia Gas of how many homes remain uninhabitable and little to no information as to what if any assistance Columbia Gas has offered affected residents with repairing their uninhabitable homes. 

In their letter, the senators noted the difficulty they have had obtaining an accurate estimate of how many homes were deemed uninhabitable, noting that they received drastically different estimates from Columbia Gas on at least three occasions. To better understand the company's response and strategy to assist these displaced residents, the senators asked Columbia Gas a series of questions about how many homes are currently uninhabitable, how many homes require major repairs, how many residents remain displaced, and what assistance the company has been providing and plans to provide to those residents.

"We are deeply concerned about the effects that extended displacement will have on the Merrimack Valley residents who were told their homes are uninhabitable," wrote the senators. "Furthermore, we are troubled with how Columbia Gas plans to assist affected residents if you are unable to provide swift and accurate information regarding the number of damaged residences."

The senators asked Columbia Gas to respond by November 1, 2018.