Gov. Baker Pushes For Merrimack Valley Comeback After Explosions

Charlie Baker Andover visit

(Karyn Regal/WBZ NewsRadio1030)

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) — As Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker begins his second term, he is advocating for the comeback of the Merrimack Valley. Baker visited communities affected by September’s gas explosions Saturday.

Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito first visited North Andover, then Andover. Baker visited businesses that had been without gas service for months following the explosions.

“One of the places we just visited in North Andover was a restaurant, it was a Brazilian restaurant. When their stove went, the only place you can get that stove is Brazil,” Baker said. “It took them a while to order it, it took them a while to get it, and it took them a while to explain to Columbia [Gas] why Columbia [Gas] should pay for it — which they ultimately did.”

Baker recently signed a bill that requires greater oversight of natural gas projects — mandating a qualified engineer oversee those projects. More safety regulations are also under consideration in Massachusetts.

Alarms that would alert of over pressurization in the Columbia Gas system would not go off in Massachusetts. Instead, they would go off in Ohio where the Columbia Gas command center is located. State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr said that needs to change.

“Gas pressure monitoring is important and isn’t always being done on site by qualified personnel. So, we have filed a bill to cause the [Department of Public Utilities] to issue regulations to require qualified personnel to be on projects, on the scene, measuring gas pressure so that we never again have a repeat of what's happened in the Merrimack Valley.

WBZ NewsRadio1030's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports 

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