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Gas Restoration Efforts Are Essentially Complete In The Merrimack Valley

On Nov. 8, natural gas contract workers repair underground gas lines in Lawrence. (Steven Senne/AP)
On Nov. 8, natural gas contract workers repair underground gas lines in Lawrence. (Steven Senne/AP)

Gas restoration efforts are essentially complete in the Merrimack Valley.

As of Thursday morning, about 96 percent of affected residential and business meters have restored service, Columbia Gas said in a statement.

And on Wednesday, Joe Albanese, who's in charge of recovery, said in a statement that "[w]ith the exception of a few meters, the only remaining customers who need to have gas service restored are customers that chose to complete the work in their home and businesses themselves, independently of Columbia Gas contractors."

The utility has been working to restore service to nearly 8,000 affected meters since a series of gas explosions and fires hit the communities of Andover, North Andover and Lawrence on Sept. 13.

One person was killed in the disaster, and many more were injured.

Columbia Gas originally set a deadline of Nov. 19 to restore all service but in late October pushed that deadline back to Dec. 16.

The National Transportation Safety Board has said that the company's failure to account for pressure sensors in planning a routine pipeline replacement project in Lawrence led to the explosions and fires.

Columbia Gas, and its parent company, Indiana-based NiSource, face federal and state investigations as well as class action lawsuits.

Albanese, a retired Naval officer appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker to oversee restoration, said the effort was personal for workers.

"We had hundreds of trades people and managers working day and night seven days a week, 90 hours a week," he told WBUR. "This was as much as a humanitarian effort for all of those people as it was a project."

With reporting by The Associated Press

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