September 18, 2018

Regarding Columbia Gas explosions
and fires in the Merrimack Valley

We offer our condolences to those affected by the Columbia Gas system failure on September 13, 2018. One dead, a couple of dozen injured, over 70 structures damaged or destroyed in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. Earlier on Sept. 13, Columbia Gas released this statement and video about work on their local distribution lines, citing multiple work locations in all three towns as “In Progress”.

Fracked "natural" gas is a dirty and dangerous form of energy. Impacts like this disaster, severe environmental impacts of fracking, and long-term health effects and air pollution from “routine” operations are some of the reasons why we oppose fracked gas infrastructure. It’s a dangerous and an outdated mode of delivering energy, and here in Massachusetts we are over-reliant on this fuel. 

The goal should not be to rebuild using the same dangerous technology, it should be to RENEWAbuild, using electric high-efficiency heat pumps and clean energy sources is now.


AG Healey Offers Resources and Advice to Residents in the Aftermath of Gas Explosions and Fires in the Merrimack Valley

Includes Tips for Homeowners Who Suffered Damage, Tips for Displaced Renters and where to Make Smart, Safe Charitable Contributions to Support Victims

For more information or assistance, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Advocacy & Response Division’s Consumer Hotline at 617-727-8400. They are open from Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Boston University Professor initiates Clean Cooking Campaign for victims of Columbia Gas’ catastrophic system failure

Clean Cooking Now - Fundraiser for immediate relief for households affected by the #MerrimackValleyExplosions by providing electric induction cooktops. “Gas can not work for the next several weeks to cook & heat water. Cheap, high performing electrical induction can. Let's get people cooking and boiling water right away.”

This initiative was created by BU Professor Nathan Phillips, one of the researchers who’s been in the trenches investigating gas leaks and their health effects here in Mass and at the Aliso Canyon disaster in California.


Pressure inside Columbia Gas pipes was
12 times higher than normal

By Matt Rocheleau, Boston Globe, September 17, 2018

The pressure inside pipes carrying natural gas through three Merrimack Valley communities was recorded to be at least 12 times higher than it should have been Thursday when dozens of gas-fueled explosions and fires erupted, U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren said Monday, citing briefings from federal regulators.

The excessive amount of pressure was revealed in letters the two lawmakers sent on Monday demanding answers about the incident from the heads of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, its parent company NiSource, and federal regulators at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, giving both a deadline of Wednesday to answer.

The senators noted that a federal regulator, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), reported that the pressure in the Columbia Gas system “should have been around 0.5 pounds per square inch (PSI), but readings in the area reached at least 6 PSI.”

Excessive levels of pressure within gas pipes can lead to leaks and explosions. Mel Ydreos, spokesman for the International Gas Union, said overpressurization in the system forces gas towards homes, where there’s less resistance. There the flammable gas can leak, causing it to buildup and creating the potential for fires and explosions.

A Lawrence teen died, at least 25 people were injured, and 80 buildings were damaged in the fires and explosions in Andover, Lawrence, and North Andover on Thursday.

Thousands had their power cut and gas service cut and were ordered to evacuate.

Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency and ordered Eversource Energy to take over the utility industry’s response. Residents have been allowed to return to their homes and electricity has been restored, but gas may not be available to some businesses and residences for months because Columbia Gas said it will replaced 48 miles of pipeline.

On Monday, Baker and other officials announced the formation of a charitable fund to funnel financial aid to residents of the three communities.

Warren and Markey have already called for a congressional hearing on the disaster, and, along with U.S. Representatives Seth Moulton and Niki Tsongas, sent a sharply worded letter to the head of Columbia Gas last week criticizing the company’s “woefully inadequate response.”

Tsongas: Federal Investigation Underway Into 'Terrifying' Response From Columbia Gas
By Tori Bedford, WGBH Radio, September 17, 2018

Tsongas said she spoke with one of the vice presidents of Columbia Gas, a conversation that did not bolster her faith in the company.

“My takeaway really was that they really had no plan in place, either how to communicate as I mentioned with the customers or the communities, and were not forthcoming about their way forward and what they were doing,” she said. “‘I think just out of deep concern for public safety, the governor did have to declare a state of emergency ...”

» Listen to the full interview for her views on regulatory agencies' roles

» See more news articles and updates about the Merrimack Valley explosions on

Hashtags to follow on social media for news and updates :
#MVGasFire, #MerrimackValleyExplosions, #MerrimackValley

Stop Local Pipeline Expansion: An Organizing Forum
This forum will featuring experts on climate change, the toxicity of gas, the pipeline web, and the political moment that we face. We are proud to say that newly-elected State Senator Jo Comerford and State Representative Lindsay Sabadosa and City Council President Ryan O’Donnell will help us formulate our resistance to the fossil fuel industry and specifically to the Columbia Gas Plan. Organized by Climate Action Now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 
7:00 PM
First Churches Sanctuary
Main Street, Northampton, MA

» Event information on the Facebook Event Page.

See many more Upcoming Events on our  Events Page

Alternatives to Gas Do Exist!
Energy Efficiency:

The first fuel is fuel you don't need to use
Mass Save is a Statewide program that offers homeowners, landlords, and tenants a variety of financial incentives to improve home efficiency. Available rebates and incentives available are divided into four categories: heating and cooling, weatherization, lighting and appliances, and building a home.

To Get Started, Schedule a No-Cost Energy Assessment by calling 1-866-527-SAVE (7283) or visiting the Mass Save Website

» See more information benefits and qualifications

Solar Access:
Discounts and incentives on high-efficiency cold weather heat pump and the solar panels to power them

Solar Access is a new Massachusetts program for middle-income homeowners.The non-profit Center for EcoTechnology (CET), is offering affordable, renewable energy for your community. Solar Access is funded by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Department of Energy Resources (DOER). Working with an energy expert, you will be guided through the program, which adds a special Solar Access incentive to the existing combination of electric utility, state, and federal incentives for renewable energy. By enrolling in a UMassFive College Credit Union loan, you will own your solar panels and a heat pump and will pay less than you spend now.

To see if you qualify go to this and fill out the survey or call the Center for Eco Technology at  413-341-0418.

» See more information on benefits and qualifications

There are also many other programs are community based incentives like HeatSmart, Solarize Mass, combine the purchase power of whole communities for high efficiency heat pumps and solar panels for residential customers.

For news on various pipelines, FERC and the industry, check out the
Latest News Tab on our site

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Continuing our work, thanks to you!
Thanks to your support, we're continuing our work to keep fossil fuel expansion at bay, helping you stay informed to take action for a cleaner, healthier environment and more just energy system.

Every contribution, large or small, helps.
No Fracked Gas in Mass is a program of Berkshire Environmental Action Team. Donations made through our direct online Donation button or mailed in check are tax deductible.