Approximately 5,000 service lines were abandoned in total during the pipeline replacement project in fall 2018. In September 2019, at the DPU’s directive, Columbia Gas initiated the verification of 700 former service lines, adding roughly 2,200 old service lines for verification in October. The first two sets of old service lines related to lines in homes and businesses formerly connected to distribution mains where a certain type of construction technique was used to restore gas service or in instances where meters formerly inside customers’ homes or businesses were abandoned during the fall 2018 recovery effort. This final set of 2,000 verifications is not required by the DPU but will be voluntarily performed by Columbia Gas out of an abundance of caution. Verifications of this final set are expected to be completed by December 31, 2019.
As with the previous sets of verifications, Columbia Gas is not aware of any immediate safety concerns associated with these service lines. Active service lines installed in the fall of 2018 as part of the Merrimack Valley recovery effort will not be affected, and therefore, there will be no disruption to gas service for customers. Customers in the final set will be contacted by Columbia Gas via email and mailed letter beginning this week.
“It is important for our customers to have peace of mind about the work that was conducted in the Merrimack Valley last fall,” said Nick Stavropoulos, Chief Safety Advisor for Columbia Gas of Massachusetts. “Completing this final set of verifications can provide these communities with the confidence that their gas distribution system is compliant and operating in a safe and reliable manner.”
Columbia Gas completed the initial set of 700 verifications required under the DPU Chairman’s 11th Set of Orders by the October 18 deadline. The company is continuing to conduct verifications of the approximately 2,200 additional service lines required under the DPU Chairman’s 12th Set of Orders by the November 15 deadline. The verification project will confirm that the work on these abandoned service lines was executed in a manner consistent with federal and state requirements and in compliance with CMA’s procedures and protocols.
In addition, Columbia Gas is continuing to coordinate with the DPU daily to secure approval to complete necessary work on the company’s gas distribution system throughout the state following the non-emergency work moratorium issued on October 3. The service line verification project is non-emergency work and is not subject to the work moratorium. Customers across the Merrimack Valley and statewide will continue to see Columbia Gas crews out in the community conducting the service line verifications and other approved work on a daily basis.
As described above, the final set of service line verifications will be conducted outside of the home or business due to the meter location. Columbia Gas will schedule supplemental, inside quality assurance checks for customers who request one through December 31. Customers may visit the Customer Care Center at 439 South Union Street in Lawrence, call 1-866-388-3239 or visit ColumbiaGasMA.com for more information.