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Columbia Gas Investigated After Massachusetts Explosions

Mary Schwalm
Associated Press
Firefighters battle a house fire, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, on Herrick Road in North Andover, Mass., one of multiple emergency crews responding to a series of gas explosions and fires triggered by a problem with a gas line.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating Columbia Gas of Ohio's parent company NiSource after gas-related explosions and fires in north of Boston killed one person and injured about 20 others.

An over-pressurized gas line in Massachusetts caused the fires and explosions. Now the National Transportation Safety Board wants to find out why, and they're looking to Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, which oversees the pipeline.

Ken Stammen, a spokesperson for parent company NiSource, says they will fully comply with the investigation.

“We’re going to defer all comment on cause and specifics of the investigation to NTSB,” Stammen says. “That’s the way these processes work. But again, we’re fully cooperating with them and share their interest in determining what went wrong.”

Stammen says NiSource will cooperate but stands behind its systems.

“We have gas distribution systems in all seven states, and we’re very confident in the safety of our systems and we monitor our systems closely,” Stammen says.

The National Transportation Safety Board declined to comment. Columbia Gas says there is no timeline on the investigation.

“Whenever at any of our inspections that we would find a hazardous condition, we would address that right away,” Stammen says.

Teams from NiSource Corporation and Columbia Gas of Ohio have traveled to Massachusetts to work on service restoration efforts.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Columbia Gas of Ohio was being investigated. Columbia Gas of Massachusetts and parent company NiSource, not the Ohio branch, are being investigated.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.