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Columbia Gas emergency maps, contacts unavailable during Merrimack Valley gas disaster

by Jill Harmacinski, Eagle Tribune

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The company overseeing the Merrimack Valley's gas pipes for a century did not have a map of the system to turn over to emergency personnel after the Sept. 13, 2018 gas disaster, according to federal safety officials.


First responders also had difficulty reaching Columbia Gas immediately after the disaster, which killed one Lawrence teen and affected thousands of residents and businesses in Andover, North Andover and Lawrence, according to various reports presented during a meeting of the National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday morning.


The meeting, held in Washington, D.C., was webcast and viewed by officials in the Merrimack Valley, including Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera.


"For the first time we are seeing the whole picture of disorganization and lack of attention to detail," said Rivera, after the NTSB took a meeting break at 11 a.m.


"It wasn't just one thing that happened. It was a whole orchestra of failures across the project," he continued.


Rivera said he was struck by the fact no map of the gas delivery system was available that afternoon when the gas disaster erupted around 4 p.m.



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