We today announced that we commit to completely replace the natural gas distribution system in the Merrimack Valley.
We are developing a plan in collaboration with the Governor's Office and all stakeholders to replace the entire affected 48-mile cast iron and bare steel pipeline system in the towns of Andover, Lawrence and North Andover with state-of-the-art plastic distribution mains and service lines, and modern safety features such as pressure regulation and excess flow valves at each premise.
"This unprecedented event requires unprecedented action," said NiSource President and CEO Joe Hamrock. "With this incident, a life was tragically lost and thousands of other lives were directly affected. We lost the trust of this community and are 100 percent committed to restoring safety, confidence and peace of mind for everyone in this community. Over time, we hope to earn back the trust we lost during this incident."
We are in the midst of a multiyear program to modernize our gas distribution system and replace cast iron and bare steel pipeline systems across the state. Our commitment to accelerate that work in the Merrimack Valley, while larger in scale than a typical modernization project, is necessary in light of recent events. We remain committed to the modernization of all of our pipeline systems.
Restoration efforts continue in the communities affected by Thursday's incident. As of 7:00 a.m. ET today, residents in the Merrimack Valley began to return home. All buildings have been cleared and electric power has been restored to virtually all residents as of this afternoon. A full complement of crews remain in the area throughout neighborhoods to assist residents as they return to their homes and answer any questions they may have about gas safety. In addition, our insurance carriers are working diligently to process damage claims submitted by customers.
Maintaining our commitment to customers, communities and all stakeholders
The actions announced today are central to our commitment to safely provide service to customers throughout Massachusetts and across the company. We also remain dedicated to delivering on its commitments to all stakeholders, including achieving the company's previously announced long-term financial and credit commitments.