NTSB: Columbia Gas Unlicensed Engineer Error Led to Mass. Tragedy

Ever see a someone’s name listed on a business card or in a directory, and there’s a “PE” after his or her name? Know what that means? It means Professional Engineer. To get a PE, an engineer must complete a four-year college degree, work under a Professional Engineer for at least four years, pass two intensive competency exams and earn a license from their state’s licensure board. The engineer who drafted plans for NiSource Columbia Gas to replace gas mains about 25 miles north of Boston, in Lawrence, MA, didn’t have a PE after his name. And the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says it was his fault that when the gas main was replaced, the old main still had sensors that detected low pressure and kept pressurizing (overpressurizing) the gas system that led to multiple explosions and one person dying, 25 injured, and 8,000 residences and business still without natural gas service some two months later.

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