Columbia Gas, the company responsible for the deadly 2018 natural gas explosions in the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts, recently reached a $143 million settlement in response to a series of class-action lawsuits (). The company had previously agreed to pay $80 million to the affected communities and also negotiated a separate settlement with the family of the man killed in the incident.
“Today marks another important step forward, as we continue to fulfill our commitment to residents and businesses, said Joe Hamrock, president of NiSource, the parent company of Columbia Gas. The settlement still requires judicial approval.
The explosions and resulting fires on September 13 caused one death, 25 injuries, and damaged or destroyed over 100 buildings. Thousands of homes and businesses were forced to face the winter without natural gas service for months on end and numerous people were required to seek temporary shelter.
“Families suffered for months in the gripping cold. Businesses shuttered, and lives were upended,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Elizabeth Graham. “To this day, the people most impacted by the explosions are not fully back on their feet, but we believe this settlement is the quickest and most just method to ensure that residents and businesses are made whole again.”
The explosions were believed to be caused by excessive pressurization of gas transmission lines during a routine replacement by the gas company. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent federal agency charged with investigating significant accidents in railroad, highway, marine, and pipeline modes of transportation, continues to investigate.
As a result of the settlement, residents can recover compensation for property damage and disruption of their lives, and businesses can be reimbursed for lost income and inventory. NiSource claims to have spent over $1 billion in response to the disaster.
While it is good to see NiSource step up and take responsibility for the damages it has caused, these kinds of tragedies need to be prevented from happening in the first place. The NTSB and the gas companies themselves need to make sure that all safety precautions are taken, even at the expense of corporate profits.
If you have been injured in a natural gas explosion, it is critical that you hire an experienced attorney. Please call DBJ today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.