Lawsuits Begin re Columbia Gas Boston-area Pipe Explosions

Last Thursday a major accident occurred 25 miles northwest of Boston when natgas delivery pipelines owned by Columbia Gas (NiSource) in three communities exploded and caught fire at more than 80 locations (see Local NatGas Pipes Explode Near Boston Killing 1, Injuring 25). The explosions and resulting fires tragically killed one teenager and injured some 25 others. Local officials ordered some 8,600 residents and businesses in the three communities to evacuate–until Sunday. A major incident. The ramifications of this situation will go on for years. Columbia Gas immediately pledged to replace all of the pipelines feeding homes and businesses in the three communities in the coming weeks and months. We expect it will be months before gas service is back online. In what is a worthy response (as well as good PR), Columbia yesterday pledged to donate $10 million to the the Greater Lawrence Disaster Relief Fund to assist families affected by the blast. Our immediate thought was, “While this is a welcomed first step, don’t for a minute think Columbia is getting off cheap. The lawsuits haven’t even begun. In the end, this episode will cost Columbia, at a minimum, hundreds of millions. Maybe over $1 billion. $10M is chump change.” And by golly, a few minutes later we spotted a story that the first class action lawsuit has just been filed. It’s the first of what likely will be many…

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