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Officials Order Columbia Gas Take Additional Safety Measures After Leak

Police and fire personnel investigate a gas leak along South Broadway in Lawrence on Friday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Police and fire personnel investigate a gas leak along South Broadway in Lawrence on Friday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Massachusetts officials say the utility company blamed for last year's destructive gas explosions faces millions of dollars in fines if it fails to complete additional safety measures following a major gas leak that prompted evacuations last week.

The state Department of Public Utilities has ordered Columbia Gas to submit by Monday a plan to address 2,220 old service lines abandoned during its systemwide pipeline upgrade in Lawrence.

The agency also ordered the company to inspect more than 700 homes by Oct. 18 and hire an independent auditor to review its upgrade work. It says Columbia Gas will be fined of up to $1 million per violation if the orders aren't carried out.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the company said it's "aligned" with the DPU order.

"These compliance checks cover customers with meters currently inside their homes or businesses who had service lines abandoned during the fall 2018 recovery effort," the statement read. "We recognize the inconvenience this review may cause for our customers and we sincerely apologize."

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