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Massachusetts Lawmakers Grill Natural Gas Execs After September Explosions

Natural gasoline companies in Massachusetts are compromising protection by means of increasingly more turning to out of doors contractors for pipeline paintings whilst reducing again on body of workers that might oversee those tasks, state lawmakers stated Tuesday at a listening to following September’s herbal gasoline explosions within the Merrimack Valley.

“There are fewer full-time employees in many of your operations than was the case five to ten years ago at a time when you’re undertaking accelerated construction activity,” state Sen. Michael Barrett, a Lexington Democrat, stated to software corporate executives attesting at Tuesday’s State House listening to.

“I really don’t understand how you can square fewer employees overseeing more (subcontractors) and still solemnly claim to be concerned about safety,” stated Barrett, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy that held the listening to.

Executives from 5 local software companies driven again, pronouncing their staffing ranges have both remained stagnant or higher in contemporary years.

Federal investigators have stated that Columbia Gas, the software corporate accountable for the Sept. 13 crisis, didn’t have body of workers on web page as contractors performed regimen pipeline substitute paintings in Lawrence that brought on the explosions.

The National Transportation Safety Board says the corporate additionally didn’t have a certified engineer overview the challenge plan before paintings began, a demand that Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is now proposing to make state regulation.

State lawmakers Tuesday additionally grew to become a important eye to state oversight businesses, wondering the independence of the consulting corporate Baker’s management has employed to guage herbal gasoline protection statewide.

Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems used to be picked to check the security and integrity of the state’s elderly herbal gasoline machine within the wake of the September crisis.

But on its website online, the company, which has places of work in Canada and Texas, touts that its shoppers perform greater than 40 p.c of the power pipelines within the country.

“I’m not immediately calling into question the integrity of their work, but they seem to be part and parcel of the industry,” Barrett stated. “They seem to be part of the status quo.”

Matthew Beaton, Baker’s Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, stated Dynamic Risk used to be decided on as it had the desired technical experience and didn’t have any present relationships or contracts with local utilities.

State lawmakers additionally took factor with the selection of inspectors the state Department of Public Utilities has on body of workers, in addition to the fairly low salaries that make it onerous to retain the employees.

A federal oversight company discovered Massachusetts had handiest two public software inspectors to be had to do box inspections all the way through a contemporary overview.

The public utilities company has averaged about ten inspectors in contemporary years and is recently ramping as much as 14, Beaton stated Tuesday.

He added that “no amount” of extra inspectors would have avoided the September crisis, a commentary that Barrett driven again at. “That defies logic,” he retorted.

Tuesday’s testimony steadily veered to the occasions surrounding Sept. 13, however the listening to used to be ostensibly taken with broader herbal gasoline machine problems.

A U.S. Senate committee final month in particular tested the crisis and its aftermath, and state lawmakers are planning to carry a identical inquiry later.

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material will not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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