Columbia Gas and its parent company NiSource expect to pay about $1.3 billion for damages related to a series of natural gas explosions that destroyed parts of three Massachusetts towns in September.
The company said that those costs don’t include expenses related to restoration efforts, such as replacing pipeline and modernizing its infrastructure to prevent a similar event from happening in the future.
According to the Associated Press, the NiSource’s latest financial reports show the company allocated $757 million to third-party claims filed against the utility, including property damage. The utility incurred an additional $266 million for other expenses related to the explosion, including the workers needed for the immediate recovery effort.
The losses do not include the cost of pipeline replacement, lawsuit settlements, or government fines and penalties the company faces for safety lapses.
The Columbia Gas explosions erupted on Sept. 13, 2018, damaging more than 100 structures in the towns of Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. The blasts killed one person – 18-year-old Leonel Rondon of Lawrence – and injured about two dozen others. The blasts also left thousands of residents without heat or hot water for several weeks.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and others continue to investigate the Columbia Gas explosions, but authorities have blamed the disaster on safety lapses that led to the over pressurization of gas lines. The excess pressure forced gas to escape into homes and buildings, where it ignited.
Columbia Gas continues to repair and upgrade its systems, including adding automatic shutoff devices that will automatically cut off the gas supply in the event of abnormally high- or low-pressure readings.
“We’re in the next phase of the restoration, with commitments to restoring property and streets and continued engagement with the communities,” NiSource President and CEO Joe Hamrock said in a statement, according to the Boston Globe. “We remain humbled by the event, and we’re engaged in extensive efforts to enhance the safety and reliability of our gas-distribution systems across our seven-state footprint.”