Local News

State levies more restrictions on Columbia Gas following leak

A group of Columbia Gas workers on South Broadway in Lawrence on Sept. 27 after one of the pipes replaced after last year's explosions sprung a leak forcing another evacuation of the neighborhood. Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) — Massachusetts officials are placing additional restrictions on the utility company blamed for last year’s destructive gas explosions following a major gas leak that prompted evacuations last week.

The state Department of Public Utilities said in a letter Thursday that Columbia Gas must halt any non-emergency work across its service area unless it gets state approval.

The agency earlier this week ordered the utility to complete a number of new safety measures, including submitting by Monday a plan to address 2,220 old service lines abandoned during its systemwide pipeline upgrade in Lawrence.

It said Columbia Gas will be fined up to $1 million per violation if the orders aren’t carried out.

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The company said in a statement that the agency’s latest directive is “the appropriate and responsible course of action.”