Columbia Gas to inspect lines at over 700 Merrimack Valley homes 1 year after disaster

Hundreds of properties across the Merrimack Valley will have to be reinspected after the Department of Public Utilities determined that some of the homes impacted by the last year’s gas disaster may still have abandoned individual service lines that need to be inspected to ensure Columbia Gas complies with the restoration plan.

Almost a year to the day after a series of gas explosions rocked the area, leveling home and claiming one life, Columbia Gas announced it will again be going to more than 700 homes and businesses to check on gas lines that were abandoned during the recovery process last September for fear they do not meet state requirements.

Columbia Gas assured residents the lines they are concerned with are not connected to any active gas system.

Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said he is beyond frustrated with the company.

“But, it always begs the question,” he said, “If they missed this, what else did they miss.”

In a statement Thursday, Andover Town Manager Andrew Flanagan said, “Despite no immediate threat to public safety, the town has approached this situation with an abundance of caution and is prepared to respond to any and all utility emergencies.”

Flanagan added that he mobilized the town’s emergency management team and met with Columbia Gas’ compliance team as inspectors prepare to return to the up to 173 properties that may still have abandoned individual service lines.

“We are grateful for the state’s continued vigilance in holding Columbia Gas accountable and ensuring that it fulfills its responsibilities to the communities of Andover, North Andover and Lawrence,” Flanagan said. “While we understand that there is no danger to the public, as always I would like to reiterate that residents should always call 911 first if they smell gas, and that they should call Columbia Gas directly with any questions regarding their home gas service.”

Columbia Gas released a statement that reads in part, “We recognize that our customers have been through a difficult year as we conducted the recovery and restoration work in these communities. We understand that additional work may frustrate them, and we apologize. We are conducting these compliance checks out of an abundance of caution.”

Gas service will not be disrupted.

Residents with abandoned service lines should expect a direct phone call from Columbia Gas to schedule an appointment. Residents may reach out to Columbia Gas at (866) 388-3239 with any questions related to this situation.

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