Report cites over pressurization as trigger in deadly Massachusetts gas line explosion

Report cites over pressurization as trigger in deadly Massachusetts gas line explosion
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The cause of a Massachusetts gas pipeline explosion that killed one and injured 25 in September is being attributed to over pressurization.

A preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board Thursday said the Sept. 13 explosion that triggered a series of fires occurred “after high-pressure natural gas was released into a low-pressure gas distribution system.”

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The event ultimately damaged 131 structures, including at least five homes, and injured nine firefighters. More than 8,000 residents were without gas as a result of the explosion.

According to the report, the accident took place in Merrimack Valley and happened as a result of a scheduled pipe replacement project at a nearby intersection in South Lawrence that caused necessary pipe regulator sensing lines to not function correctly.

The neighborhood’s gas distribution system operated by Columbia Gas was first installed in the early 1900s and was last updated around the 1950s, according to the report.

The explosion in September prompted the Massachusetts Governor to declare a state of emergency and led the state to take a firm look at the century-old pipeline infrastructure.

The disaster added to an ongoing debate over the safety of natural gas pipelines at a time when the Trump administration is looking to gain support for pipeline expansion and other major infrastructure projects across the country.