Engineer Faulted In Gas Explosions After a gas fire and explosions struck three towns in Massachusetts in September, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended changes in the way the state regulates public utility plans.

Engineer Faulted In Gas Explosions

Engineer Faulted In Gas Explosions

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After a gas fire and explosions struck three towns in Massachusetts in September, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended changes in the way the state regulates public utility plans.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The National Transportation Safety Board is issuing what it's calling urgent safety recommendations after investigating gas explosions in an area north of Boston two months ago. One person was killed in those fires, dozens injured and thousands forced from their homes. From member station WGBH, Mark Herz reports.

MARK HERZ, BYLINE: The agency says Columbia Gas' work plans for the site where over-pressurization flooded homes with natural gas were missing crucial information about pressure sensors. And the plans were approved by a field engineer, not a licensed professional engineer. But the state of Massachusetts doesn't require the gas industry to use licensed professional engineers to approve work plans. Most states don't require professional engineers to sign off on public utility work. But the NTSB says it's critical and could have helped prevent the September 13 accident.

FRANK HAGAN: Well, I think it's about time.

HERZ: Frank Hagan is a licensed professional engineer who works for the law firm that filed the first lawsuit against Columbia Gas.

HAGAN: It's my opinion that this incident could have been avoided had a professional engineer signed off on the work instructions.

HERZ: Dan Rivera is the mayor of Lawrence, the city hardest hit by the gas fires. He says the NTSB report underscores what he's known since day one.

DAN RIVERA: It's clear that they were not prepared for this level of an incident that included the loss of life or failure in their system.

HERZ: Columbia Gas says it's reviewing the NTSB safety recommendations and looks forward to discussing them with the agency. For NPR News, I'm Mark Herz in Boston.

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