Columbia Gas Pleads Guilty in Merrimack Valley Gas Disaster

February 26, 2020 (BOSTON, MA) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement today after Columbia Gas pleaded guilty to violating federal safety regulations in a 2018 disaster that forced people from their homes in the Merrimack Valley and left one person dead. The company will also be required to pay more than $50 million in penalties.

“While today’s guilty plea hopefully brings some element of closure in this disaster, the risks that fracked gas poses to our communities and our climate can only be addressed by breaking our addiction to fossil fuels,” said Greg Cunningham, Vice President & Director of CLF’s Clean Energy Climate Change program. “As the Commonwealth considers transferring the utility privileges held by Columbia Gas to a new owner, it must ensure that gas utilities are truly committed to safety and combatting the climate crisis. The funds from this settlement must be directed towards the historically marginalized communities that have been hit hardest by this disaster.”

The September 2018 disaster was the result of an error on the part of Columbia Gas and resulted in a series of fires and explosions that left thousands of people homeless or without heat and hot water for weeks.

CLF experts are available for further comment.