Thursday, 22 November, 2018

New Gas Leak Detected in Boston Area 2 Days After Fatal Explosions

Lawrence Massachusetts New Gas Leak Detected in Boston Area 2 Days After Fatal Explosions
Patty Aguilar | 16 September, 2018, 20:53

Residents of three areas hit by a series of fires and gas explosions north of Boston in MA have started to return home, officials say.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency for the area and put Eversource Energy, another utility, in charge of recovery efforts after state and local officials said they were unsatisfied with Columbia Gas' response. Thousands of people were forced to evacuate.

All impacted homes have been safely cleared of gas, he said, and 8,600 gas meters in the area have been shut off.

In April, Columbia Gas filed a petition with the state's Department of Public Utilities to increase annual revenues by $24.1 million in part to help the company replace aging infrastructure. Leonel Rondon, 18, and two of his friends were in the vehicle when the debris struck, his family told CNN affiliate WHDH.

The entirety of South Lawrence is still under an evacuation warning, Mayor Dan Rivera said Friday morning. He later died at the hospital, authorities said.

Utility President Steve Bryant later defended the company's performance, saying the company had remained in constant touch with state and federal officials.

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As the result of a preliminary investigation Lawrence Fire Chief, Brian Moriarty, confirms that this incident is unrelated to Thursday's gas leaks.

Columbia Gas has had seven violations totaling $100,000 since 2010, according to an email from Peter Lorenz, communications director for Massachusetts's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

The Red Cross reported Friday that about 400 people were staying in shelters.

Jeff Hall, spokesman for the Red Cross, said Friday there were nearly 400 people shelters after the Thursday night explosions and fires.

Investigators expect to be on site up to ten days.

Columbia Gas also said it's working with officials to "investigate this incident in order to understand its cause".

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