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Columbia Gas Explosion in Lawrence County

By DiBella Law Offices on January 6, 2020

firefighters battle flames from a gas explosion

On Sept 13, 2018, Columbia Gas accidentally over-pressurized a gas main that fed thousands of homes throughout Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover counties. The over-pressurization of the gas main resulted in explosions and fires that killed one person, sent 22 others to the hospital, damaged 131 structures, and destroyed at least five homes. 30,000 customers were forced to evacuate their homes and seek shelter elsewhere due to unsafe conditions – interrupting and, for many, shattering their lives.

Legal Representation for Columbia Gas Explosion Cases

An initial class-action settlement of $143 million has been proposed by Columbia Gas and NiSource, its parent company, to compensate the victims of this disaster. This settlement, however, has yet to be approved by the court investigating and dealing with the disaster.

If you or a loved one owned property or were in any way affected by this disaster, you have the legal right to recover financial compensation for the damages you sustained, both economic and non-economic.

What Caused the Disaster?

According to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on September 24, 2019, the explosions occurred due to faulty planning in the replacement of old cast-iron gas piping. The sensors and regulators that ensure correct pressure and volume of gas is distributed were not moved before new piping was installed, causing the full pressure of the gas system to flow through the low-pressure home distribution pipelines. As a result, the home appliances that rely on a low-pressure gas system were flooded with almost 150x the standard volume of gas, causing over 80 individual fires within a matter of hours.

Findings in the Columbia Gas Explosion

Some of the specific findings of the report included:

  • Columbia Gas’s inadequate planning, documentation, and recordkeeping processes led to the omission of the relocation of the sensors that would have prevented the over-pressurization.
  • Columbia Gas’s constructability review process was not enough to detect the omission of the relocation of the sensors in the plans.
  • The engineered plans were not stamped by a licensed professional engineer, which would have shown that an expert with the needed skills, knowledge, and experience had reviewed the plans for safety and constructability.

In other words, this explosion was caused by negligence and shoddy planning on the part of Columbia Gas and its parent company, NiSource.

How are Victims Being Compensated?

Due to the extensive damage and destruction that was caused, the ongoing investigation and court case regarding the Columbia Gas explosions are not yet complete. Though it is clear that Columbia Gas is at fault, the determination about compensation paid by Columbia Gas has not been finalized.

Class Action Lawsuit in the Columbia Gas Explosion

The current class-action lawsuit has a proposed settlement of $143 million, to be distributed amongst the victims of this disaster. The settlement is not yet approved and may be increased if enough victims provide evidence that additional funds are needed, however, the case will come to a close in the near future. It is imperative that you and your family are treated fairly by the utility company.

Columbia Gas Explosion in Lawrence

If you were affected by this disaster, the quality of your legal representation is critical. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., we offer our assistance to victims of the Columbia Gas explosion. Your case will be given the full attention of our firm. At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., we are proud to have gained national recognition for our legal work. Our founder, Attorney DiBella, has been named as one of the top litigators in the region, and has extensive experience in high profile injury cases. If you are a victim of the 2018 Columbia Gas incident, call us today at (978) 327-5140 to schedule a free consultation.

Posted in: Personal Injuries