Columbia Gas President Speaks Out After Major Gas Leak In Lawrence

LAWRENCE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) —A press conference Saturday revealed more details about Friday’s major gas leak in Lawrence that forced hundreds to evacuate their homes.

The incident comes nearly a year after the deadly gas explosions that rocked the Merrimack Valley.

The leak happened after a contractor that was working for the city of Lawrence opened a gas valve that was mislabeled as water.

The city uses 100-year-old maps, and the valve was labeled as water back in 2015.

“It is clear to me that this gas valve should not have even been there. It should have been removed as part of the pipeline reconstruction of last year,” Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera said.

Lawrence Gas Leak: Main 'Should Have Been Disabled' In 2018 - Thumbnail Image

Lawrence Gas Leak: Main 'Should Have Been Disabled' In 2018

Columbia Gas President Mark Kempic said the company walked the system to ensure all the valves are labeled correctly.

“We’re inspecting every last foot,” Kempic said. “I don’t care if it’s painted blue for water or I don’t care if it’s painted purple. I don’t care what it’s painted, we are looking for every single valve, whether it’s on the city’s maps, on our maps.”

According to Kempic, it was verified on Friday that 43 of the 45 gas valves were removed last year.

Andover's system is also being looked at.

WBZ NewsRadio’s Karyn Regal spoke with Kempic about Columbia Gas’ response to the leak, and how it compared to last year following the gas disaster.

“What we’ve adopted this year at Columbia Gas is something called a safety management system, and what this does is it enables us to look at the system freshly,” Kempic said. “It is going to leverage the hundreds and hundreds of years of experience of all of our employees so that they can better the system so that we can relentlessly drive continued improvements to safety, security, and efficiency for our customers.”

Listen to the full conversation between WBZ NewsRadio’s Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) and Columbia Gas President Mark Kempic:

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