Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Public Interest in Halibut Point State Park Grows

Fantastic turnout and participation at our Halibut Point State Park public input session with Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy at Rockport Public Library. Halibut Point, on the tip of Cape Ann in Rockport, is a world renowned coastal park with beautiful landscapes, trails, history, and wonder.

Following up on state funding that I helped secure for the operations of the park I wanted the Commissioner to have an opportunity discuss the needs and future plans for the park including trail work, rehabilitation to the visitor’s center and museum, park information displays, and other opportunities to highlight the historic and unique attributes found only there.

The property, co-managed by the Trustees of Reservation, is one of the state’s most popular parks. A bird watching hot spot visitors can see the Babson Farm Quarry, which supplied granite for thousands of projects across New England, and a coastline that artists dream of.

The reservation is open year round.



Happy to participate in the ribbon cutting today for the new North Shore Registry of Motor Vehicles location in Danvers. This new larger facility, with hundreds of parking spaces and 10 counter workstations, provides lots of space for customers and staff. Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack and Registrar of Motor Vehicles Erin Deveney provided state and local officials and citizens a description of the services offered.

RMV Service Center, 8 Newbury Street, Danvers Crossing Plaza, Danvers


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Everyone Loves a Victory Parade. The MBTA has information for Wednesday’s Red Sox Parade

T to run rush-hour subway service; provide additional capacity on certain Commuter Rail lines.

Parade attendees strongly encouraged to purchase round-trip fares in advance. Visit for service information

BOSTON – To accommodate attendees of the parade celebrating the 2018 Boston Red Sox World Series victory, the MBTA will operate enhanced service on Wednesday, October 31, 2018.

The MBTA will operate subway service at rush-hour levels from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Additional Commuter Rail capacity will be added to lines that are expected to experience higher-than-normal ridership. On the Green Line, the nightly shutdown of trolley service on the D Branch has been cancelled, meaning regularly scheduled D Branch service will continue until the end of service on Wednesday night.

“Because the parade coincides with Halloween, we fully expect Wednesday to be a busy day in Boston and around the region,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez. “So as a reminder, we’re asking people to please stay informed of service information. We want everyone to have an enjoyable day, so please be safe, be respectful, and enjoy the special day on Wednesday.”

“As we prepare for the victory parade and Halloween, MBTA Transit Police will have an enhanced presence throughout the day,” said MBTA Transit Police Chief Kenneth Green. “For this year’s parade, we’re asking our customers for their assistance: if you see something, please say something. Working together, we can ensure everyone has a safe, enjoyable day.”

Customers can find more information on MBTA service and schedule information for Wednesday, October 31 at

For customers using the Commuter Rail:

Commuter Rail schedules are posted online and can be found on the MBTA Commuter Rail app.

Because of the expected crowds, approximately 200 Keolis and Commuter Rail personnel will be at key stations to assist with wayfinding, boarding, and schedule information. Bikes will not be allowed on any Commuter Rail trains on Wednesday.

Parking facility locations and rates can be found online.

Parade attendees are strongly encouraged to purchase round-trip fares either Tuesday during the day or Wednesday morning to avoid long waits at fare vending machines after the parade.

In addition to purchasing fares in advance, Commuter Rail customers should consider using the mTicket app.

Some Commuter Rail parking facilities historically have additional capacity. Stations with high parking capacity include:

· Newburyport/Rockport Line: Beverly, Salem, and Lynn
· Haverhill Line: Bradford and Lawrence
· Lowell Line: Lowell, Billerica, and Anderson/Woburn
· Fitchburg Line: Fitchburg and North Leominster
· Greenbush Line: Greenbush, Nantasket, and Weymouth Landing
· Plymouth/Kingston Line: Kingston
· Middleborough Line: Campello, Montello, and Bridgewater
· Fairmount Line: Readville
· Providence Line: Route 128
· Franklin Line: Forge Park/495, Walpole, Dedham Corp.
· Needham Line: Needham
· Worcester Line: Worcester, Ashland

For customers using MBTA buses:

All MBTA bus routes will operate regular weekday schedules on Wednesday with the exception of a number of bus routes that will be detoured because of the parade. Those routes include:
· Route 1
· Route 9
· Route 10
· Route 39
· Route 43
· Silver Line (SL5)
· Route 92
· Route 93
· Route 504

For customers using the subway:

Beginning at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, the T will operate subway service at rush-hour levels.

As with all other modes, customers are strongly encourage to purchase roundtrip fares either on Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

Beginning Wednesday at 7 a.m. at Riverside Station, the CharlieCard Van will have available thousands of CharlieCards pre-loaded with $5 of value on each card so that customers can quickly purchase round-trip fares.

Customer can access the parade route from a number of MBTA stations, according to the following:
· From the Orange Line: any station between North Station and Back Bay
· From the Green Line: any station between North Station and Kenmore
· From the Blue Line: any station from Bowdoin and State Street
· From the Red Line: Park Street and Downtown Crossing

The following MBTA stations are all located directly along the parade route:
· Hynes Convention Center
· Copley
· Arlington
· Boylston
· Park Street
· Downtown Crossing
· Government Center

Fare Information:

Fans are strongly encouraged to purchase round-trip fares either Tuesday during the day or Wednesday morning to avoid long waits at fare vending machines after the parade.

In addition to purchasing fares in advance, Commuter Rail customers should consider using the mTicket app.

Additional Parking Information:

As with prior large-scale events, the T will be working in coordination with MassDOT to position variable message boards along state highways informing customers about parking availability at key MBTA facilities.

For infrequent MBTA customers, parking locations and rates can be found at

The T also provides live parking capacity updates at the MBTA’s eight largest garages at @MBTA_Parking.

Customer Information:

Customers can call the MBTA call center at 617-222-3200. To report an emergency, dial 911 or call the MBTA Transit Police Department at 617-222-1212. As always, customers should connect with the T on Twitter at @MBTA and @MBTA_CR for the latest service information.


Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute Launches New Research Facility

Today, Governor Charlie Baker came to Gloucester for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the expansion of Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute, Inc. and their new the 6,000 square-foot world-class genomics research facility located on Gloucester’s inner harbor. Officials from GMGI, Mayor Sefatia Romeo Thekena, Representative Ann Margaret Ferrante and I welcomed the Governor, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center President & CEO Travis McCready and others for this historic event.

The construction of the research building was made possible in part by a $2.7 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and other funds that I helped secure in legislation including funds to secure state-of-the-art laboratory equipment and workforce training opportunities to train new generations of biotechnology technicians, $150,000 in the new state budget for a new marine program to be run by the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute in coordination with the University of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries, and $1.3 million in the  economic development bill for a GMGI and Ocean Genome Legacy/Northeastern Marine Science Center joint proposal to mine the rich genetic diversity of marine organisms through new sequencing technologies.

The research performed at GMGI is not only important for what it will teach us about our precious marine resources, it will also be critical to informing sound strategic decisions about managing the fish stocks that support our commercial fishing industry, our economy, and our way of life.

Governor Baker said, “Our Administration is committed to investing in the innovation economy, supporting game-changing technological research, and creating jobs in every region of the Commonwealth. It is our collective hope that this new facility will position GMGI as a leader in marine biotechnology by applying the most innovative tools for new discoveries that impact human health, biotechnology, and fisheries.”

The two-story facility will feature research laboratories, outfitted with the specialized equipment needed to bring genomics science to the study of marine life, including a tank room housing 18 unique aquaria and a molecular genomics lab where all of the bench work for molecular biology and genomic applications will take place utilizing a liquid handling robot and multiple platforms for high-throughput genomics and genotyping.


Monday, October 29, 2018

Senate Adjourns In Memory Of Victims

Today, Senate President Karen Spilka and I moved that the Senate adjourn today in memory of the victims of the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as well as the victims of the shooting in Kentucky.

Last week, we witnessed one of the worst weeks of hate in our country’s recent history. Pipe bombs sent to prominent Americans. Two people shot in Kentucky, apparently due to the color of their skin.

Eleven lives cut short in a place of worship in Pittsburgh. Today, we remember those of all ages whose lives were ended too soon, and those whose voices were silenced. Among the 13 we remember today were a dentist; a grandfather buying poster board for his grandson; a physician at the forefront of HIV treatment; a couple who had been married in the same synagogue 60 years earlier; a research specialist; and a pair of inseparable brothers.

We remember the good they did in the world; the good that was left to do, and all that they represented to their loved ones and communities. The Jewish Talmud teaches us, Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now.

You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.

Today, in the names of those who perished by hate while committing an act of faith; in the names of those who were murdered for the color of their skin, we promise to not be daunted by grief, and to continue to do justly.

We asked for a moment of silence in memory of: Rose Mallinger, 97 Jerry Rabinowitz, 66 Cecil Rosenthal, 59 David Rosenthal, 54 Bernice Simon, 84 Sylvan Simon, 86 Daniel Stein, 71 Melvin Wax, 88 Irving Younger, 69 Joyce Fienberg, 75 Richard Gottfried, 65 Maurice Stallard, 69 And Vickie Jones, 67

May their memories be a blessing.


Columbia Gas Information Session

I went to the community meeting at the North Andover Senior Center this weekend, Columbia Gas gave residents affected by the September utility shutdown new information about restoration timelines.

The company has pushed back restoration dates to as late as December 16th.

Steve Bryant, Columbia Gas President Chief Recovery Officer Joe Albanese, and Chief Restoration Officer Pablo Vegas attended similar meetings in Lawrence and Andover.

There are three critical steps in the restoration process: Becoming “Gas-Ready”, becoming “House-Ready”, and finally, “Re-light”. Gas-Ready and House-Ready can occur in any order, but both must occur in a residence or business before Re-Light can take place.

Almost 2,000 families remain living in alternative housing.

For additional information visit


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

District Seawall and Dam Grants Awarded

Today, at the Dow Reservoir Dam in Ipswich, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Daniel Sieger, Assistant Secretary for Environment of the Baker Administration announced over $10 million in grants and loans to help cities and towns deal with failing seawalls and dams.

Three of these important projects are in the district that I represent -
Essex, Conomo Point Seawall - $65,650
Ipswich, Dow Reservoir Dam - $711,954
Rockport, Long Beach Seawall and Revetment - $750,000

Representative Brad Hill, and Representative Josh Cutler of Duxbury and I were there to welcome and join Assistant Secretary Sieger.

Dams and seawalls are critical pieces of infrastructure for public safety, the protection of our natural resources and our quality of life. Since constructing and maintaining them is costly, it’s imperative that state government partner with our communities to get the job done, and these grants do just that.

The awards are funded by the Dam and Seawall Repair or Removal Fund which I helped to get signed into law with Senator Marc Pacheco and Representative Jim Cantwell in 2013.

Here is a description of the projects and the funding that they will each receive -

Essex, Conomo Point Seawall - $65,650
The seawall is located within Essex Bay. Much of the area surrounding the point is made up of salt marsh and highly productive clam flats. The seawall on the point is now in a deteriorated state and suffered failures in the 2018 winter storms. Of particular importance at this location is the presence of a boat launch used by the Essex emergency services and the Massachusetts Environmental Police. In many tide conditions, other launches in the town are not usable and this is the most viable launch site. The seawall helps to protect Conomo Point Road – the only land access to the launch site. Conomo Point Road is also the route used by many of the town’s commercial shellfishermen to bring their product tom market.

Ipswich, Dow Reservoir Dam - $711,954
Dow Reservoir Dam is an important element of the water supply system. Built in 1894, it is the largest reservoir in Ipswich and it supports over half of the town’s surface water. The dam sits directly above the Ipswich Electric Light Department 9.2MW generating station and distribution substation.

Rockport, Long Beach Seawall and Revetment - $750,000
The Long Beach Seawall in Rockport suffered substantial damage over the winter of 2018. This structure had already been designated for substantial repair and the Dam and Seawall program awarded a design and permit grant in fiscal year 2018. This project will implement key stabilization work on the wall and will serve to protect homes and the wetlands behind. Repairs will include placement of new revetment seaward of the existing wall and addition of 8,000 yards of sand to nourish the beach.


Plum Island Ecosystems "Flash Talk"

I was happy to accept an invitation to participate in the "Flash Talk" at the Plum Island Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research Program (PIE-LTER) at the Marshview Field Station in Newbury.

I learned more about PIE-LTER’s latest coastal resilience research and important ecological and climate resilience work. The information developed here will help us to make good decisions about environmental stewardship for the future.

“Flash Talks" were by Anne Giblin, Marine Biological Laboratory and Nancy Pau, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Complex.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Visit to Wellfleet's Oyster Beds

Our state has a tremendous history. and well-earned reputation. for harvesting great seafood. From Cape Ann to Cape Cod the hard-working men and women who fish and farm the cold clean waters of the Bay State are important contributors to our economy.

Yesterday, I visited the Mayo Beach oyster beds in Wellfleet with Senator Julian Cyr and members of the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, Mac’s Seafood, the Woods Hole Sea Grant, Massachusetts Aquaculture Association, and the Massachusetts Shellfish Initiative. We are all committed to ensuring the long-term viability of the aquaculture industry in Massachusetts.

After a lunch meeting at Mac's Seafood (Mac's Shack) we timed our low tide visit to the flats just right. I appreciate the hard work of all involved in promoting the development of high quality shellfish and fish farming in Massachusetts. Consumers here and from thousands of miles away choose and get the best because of their efforts.



Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Below is a weekly update on recovery and restoration efforts associated with the natural gas pipeline incident affecting Andover, Lawrence and North Andover. Additional information can be obtained at

Restoration Process Columbia Gas has committed to have gas service restored by Nov. 19. There are three critical steps in the restoration process: Becoming “Gas-Ready”, becoming “House-Ready”, and finally, “Re-light”. Gas-Ready and House-Ready can occur in any order, but both must occur in a residence or business before Re-Light can take place.

· Main Line Replacement: The main gas line that brings gas into the area will be replaced on your street.
· Service Line Replacement: The line connecting your home or business to the main line will be replaced.
· Completion: A yellow sticker will be placed on the meter bar at completion
For additional information on Gas-Ready, please visit

All natural gas appliances are assessed, interior gas lines are repaired and tested, new appliances are installed (with at least one appliance available for re-light), and safety inspections are conducted. To view the current schedule for House-Ready assessments and installation, as well as other House Ready information, please visit

To restore natural gas service a residence or business, all work inside and outside must be completed. Once a residence or business is ‘House Ready’ and ‘Gas Ready,’ a Columbia Gas representative will visit, perform final safety checks, install the gas meter and restore natural gas service. For additional information on Re-Light, please visit

Restoration Status
Service and Main Line Replacement as of 10/21:
Main line Installed 38.2 miles, Target 44.5 miles

Service line replaced 3,615, Target 6,100

Crews on the Ground as of 10/21: 208 crews

Units Completed “House-Ready” 667, Target 7,772

Customer Support
· The Call Center has handled 87,421
· The Mobile Customer Care Centers have interacted with 1,934 customers answering questions and responding to concerns.
· A Customer Service Walk-In Center is in final stages of planning.
· Personalized outbound calls to all impacted customers to determine property ownership, number of dwellings behind the meter, and obtain approval to enter the dwelling have been completed.

Claims as of 10/21
Total Claims 21,245
Active Claims 14,677
Value Paid Out $24.8 Million

A warming center/shelter is operating at 46 Stafford Street in Lawrence for all impacted customers.

Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund
In response to the overwhelming needs facing those affected, Governor Charlie Baker has announced the establishment of the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund through Essex County Community Foundation.

Any household or business that lost gas service on Sept. 13 and was still without gas on or after Oct. 1 may be eligible to apply. All eligible residents and businesses in the three affected communities must file an application by Nov. 5 to ensure they receive the current $550 stipend gift - and any future gift - being granted by the Fund. Any household or business that lost gas service on Sept. 13 and was still without gas on or after Oct. 1 may be eligible to apply.

There are three ways to apply: 1. Online at (This is the fastest and easiest way to apply.)
2. Over the phone by dialing 2-1-1, for those who cannot apply onlinebr
3. In person for anyone in need of assistance at one of two drop-in application centers.
Locations and hours of application centers have changed. Please visit for more information.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Plan for dyslexia screening awaits Baker's approval

The passage of this bill is a major positive step for students with dyslexia and our entire k-12 educational system.

We all should recognize and appreciate the tireless work of the parents and students that have driven the effort to get this bill passed. Through their passion, commitment, and willingness to share compelling personal stories, they have moved the legislature to action. They have convinced me and many others that this is an issue that can not be ignored, and now we are making progress.

With Nancy Duggan, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of Decoding Dyslexia,


MassDOT: Newburyport-Amesbury-Salisbury Whittier Bridge I-95 North Opening of Shared-Use Path (Garrison Trail)

NEWBURYPORT-AMESBURY-SALISBURY – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has announced the opening of the William Lloyd Garrison Trail on Thursday, October 18th at 3:00 PM.

 The 1.8 mile trail adjacent to Route I-95 Northbound extends from Route 113 in Newburyport crossing over the Whittier Bridge to Route 110 at the Amesbury/Salisbury line.

The shared-use path has four access points open to the general public:
  • The Park and Ride located off of Route 113 in Newburyport.
  • The intersection of Laurel Road and Ferry Road in Newburyport.
  • At the end of Old Merrill Road in Amesbury and,
  • The intersection of Elm Street and Merrill Street at the Amesbury/Salisbury line.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Helix Power on Track to Save Energy

A pleasure to talk about the groundbreaking energy storage technology being developed by Helix Power at the Greentown Labs today. Matthew Lazarewicz Founder and President of Helix Power invited me and Representative Keiko Orrall to come to Greentown Labs, the largest clean technology incubator in the United States, to talk about the work that they will be doing to harvest and instantly reuse subway train energy in their newly announced partnership with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Helix also just received a $500 thousand dollar award with Sandia National Labs which is funded by the U.S Department of Energy.


Friday, October 12, 2018

Flu Season Arrives - Vaccinations Are Available

Today is the start of the state’s flu surveillance monitoring and reporting for the 2018-2019 season. Already, since the start of September, Massachusetts has had nearly 80 lab-confirmed flu cases reported, well within the expected range for this time of year.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health officials are recommending that everyone take steps to prevent the spread of flu by getting vaccinated.

DPH recommends that you:
  • Get the flu vaccine as soon as possible. 
  • Wash hands thoroughly, use hand sanitizer when washing is not possible.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. 
  • Stay home when sick with fever and cough or sore throat, and keep children home from school and daycare when sick. 
  • Contact a healthcare provider promptly if you think that you have the flu.
Flu can be very serious. The most common symptoms of flu are fever, cough, and sore throat. Symptoms can also include body aches, headache, chills, runny nose and feeling very tired. Every year in the United States, millions of people get the flu, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands of people or tens of thousands die from flu-related illnesses. Those at higher risk of serious health problems when they get the flu include pregnant women, infants, the elderly and people with medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, neurological and neuromuscular conditions and weakened immune systems.

Flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu-associated death by half among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and by nearly two-thirds among healthy children. Nationwide, there were 180 pediatric deaths from the flu last year and approximately 80 percent of those who died did not receive a flu vaccine.

Flu vaccine is available across the state at multiple locations, including health care provider offices, pharmacies, school and workplace vaccination clinics, and flu vaccine clinics sponsored by local boards of health. A list of flu vaccine availability based on zip code can be found at


Thursday, October 11, 2018

NTSB: Preliminary Report Pipeline: Over-pressure of a Columbia Gas of Massachusetts Low-pressure Natural Gas Distribution System

Today my office received from the National Transportation Safety Board their preliminary report on the Over-pressure of a Columbia Gas of Massachusetts Low-pressure Natural Gas Distribution System.

Here is the Executive Summary of the report:

Executive Summary

The information in this report is preliminary and will be either supplemented or corrected during the course of the investigation.

On September 13, 2018, about 4:00 p.m. eastern daylight time, a series of explosions and fires occurred after high-pressure natural gas was released into a low-pressure gas distribution system in the northeast region of the Merrimack Valley in the state of Massachusetts.1 (See figure 1.) The distribution system was owned and operated by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts (Columbia Gas), a subsidiary of NiSource. The system over-pressure damaged 131 structures, including at least 5 homes that were destroyed in the city of Lawrence and the towns of Andover and North Andover. Most of the damage was a result of structure fires ignited by gas-fueled appliances. Several structures were destroyed by natural gas explosions. One person was killed and at least 21 individuals, including 2 firefighters, were transported to the hospital. Seven other firefighters received minor injuries.

Fire departments from the three municipalities were dispatched to address the multiple fires and explosions. First responders initiated the state’s fire mobilization plan, that included mutual aid from other districts in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Emergency responders asked residents to evacuate from the impacted area to four evacuation centers. At the request of emergency management officials, National Grid shut down electrical power in the affected area to remove a source of ignition. Nearby roads were closed, and freight and passenger railroad operations were suspended. Columbia Gas also shut down the low-pressure, natural gas distribution system.[2]

The cast-iron, low-pressure distribution system was installed in the early 1900s and had been partially improved with both steel and plastic pipe upgrades since the 1950s. The low-pressure distribution system in the affected area relied on 14 regulator stations to control gas at the required pressure into structures serviced by the system, unlike high-pressure gas distribution systems that place an individual regulator to reduce pressure at each customer service.[3] Each of the regulator stations reduced the pressure from about 75-pounds per square inch gauge (psig) natural gas main pipeline to 12 inches of water column (about 0.5 psig) for delivery to customers.

Prior to the over-pressure event, a Columbia Gas-contracted work crew, which included a Columbia Gas inspector, was performing a Columbia Gas-designed and approved pipe-replacement project at a nearby intersection (South Union Street and Salem Street) in South Lawrence. The contracted crew was working on a tie-in project of a new plastic distribution main and the abandonment of a cast-iron distribution main. The distribution main that was abandoned still had the regulator sensing lines that were used to detect pressure in the distribution system and provide input to the regulators to control the system pressure. Once the contractor crews disconnected the distribution main that was going to be abandoned, the section containing the sensing lines began losing pressure.

As the pressure in the abandoned distribution main dropped about 0.25 inches of water column (about 0.01 psig), the regulators responded by opening further, increasing pressure in the distribution system. Since the regulators no longer sensed system pressure they fully opened allowing the full flow of high-pressure gas to be released into the distribution system supplying the neighborhood, exceeding the maximum allowable pressure.

Columbia Gas developed and approved the work package executed on the day of the accident. The work package did not account for the location of the sensing lines or require their relocation to ensure the regulators were sensing actual system pressure. The work was performed in accordance with steps laid out in the work package. In light of this accident, Columbia Gas implemented a safety stand-down for all employees who perform work related to low-pressure natural gas systems for NiSource subsidiaries.[4]

Minutes before the fires and explosions occurred, the Columbia Gas monitoring center in Columbus, Ohio, received two high-pressure alarms for the South Lawrence gas pressure system: one at 4:04 p.m. and the other at 4:05 p.m. The monitoring center had no control capability to close or open valves; its only capability was to monitor pressures on the distribution system and advise field technicians accordingly. Following company protocol, at 4:06 p.m., the Columbia Gas controller reported the high-pressure event to the Meters and Regulations group in Lawrence. A local resident made the first 9-1-1 call to Lawrence emergency services at 4:11 p.m.

Columbia Gas shut down the regulator at issue by about 4:30 p.m. The critical valves of the involved natural gas distribution system were closed by 7:24 p.m. Beginning about midnight, crews consisting of two Columbia Gas technicians escorted by two emergency response personnel began shutting off the meters at each house to isolate the homes from the natural gas distribution system. All meters were shut off by the following morning.

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Robert Sumwalt and Member Jennifer Homendy led a 19-member NTSB team on scene. Parties to the investigation include NiSource, Columbia Gas, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Massachusetts State Police, and Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities. In addition to the on-scene work, investigators interviewed multiple people including two Columbia Gas Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition controllers from Columbus, Ohio.

According to Columbia Gas, all cast iron and bare steel piping in the affected neighborhoods will be replaced due to system integrity concerns. The new system will consist of high-pressure plastic mains with regulators at each service meter to reduce the line pressure from the main to the required pressure. The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities is providing oversight of the new system installation to ensure that all work complies with state and federal safety regulations.

The NTSB’s investigation into this accident is ongoing. Future investigative issues include the coordination between the emergency responders and Columbia Gas; an analysis of the engineering work package preparation and execution, including the design documentation; and a review of construction packages for constructability and safety.

1. Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 192.3 defines a low-pressure distribution system as “a distribution system in which the gas pressure in the main is substantially the same as the pressure provided to the customer.” The Massachusetts Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Code, Title 220 Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) 101.06, further defines a low-pressure distribution system “as any system in which the gas pressure in the main is equal to or less than two psig (pounds per square inch gauge).”

2. Columbia Gas delivers natural gas to about 320,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Massachusetts, including the Merrimack Valley.

3. Title 49 CFR 192.3 defines a high-pressure distribution system as “a distribution system in which the gas pressure in the main is higher than the pressure provided to the customer.” The Massachusetts Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Code, 220 CMR 101.06, further defines a high-pressure distribution system “as a system in which the pressure in the main is greater than 60 psig, but equal to or less than 200 psig.”

4. A safety stand-down is an organized break from work by which employers hold discussions with their employees. They are often taken as occasions to discuss safety topics while also reinforcing the organization’s policies regarding safety in general.

The full preliminary report can be found here:

Below are a few photos provided by the NTSB: