ANDOVER (CBS) – It could be a long time before residents affected by the Merrimack Valley explosions have gas service again.

Columbia Gas says it is working with Gov. Charlie Baker and local communities “to replace the entire affected 48-mile cast iron and bare steel pipeline system in the towns of Andover, Lawrence and North Andover with state-of-the-art plastic distribution mains and service lines, and modern safety features such as pressure regulation and excess flow valves at each premise.”

The timeline for that process “will not be measured in days, but certainly in weeks and likely months,” the town of Andover said in a statement on Monday.

In the meantime, the gas company has met with town managers and fire departments to come up with interim solutions for affected residents’ heat, hot water, and cooking gas needs.

Related: Relief Fund Being Set Up For Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions Victims

Columbia Gas said it is in the middle of a multi-year upgrade to its gas distribution system. The company says it plans to “accelerate” work on its pipelines in the Merrimack Valley as a result of recent events.

Anyone in the areas affected by the explosions may have sustained damage to gas service lines, furnaces, water heaters and gas appliances. Andover officials say Columbia Gas parent company NiSource is committed to replacing damaged infrastructure and appliances and reimbursing residents if necessary.

Hundreds of people lined up in Lawrence Monday to file claims with Columbia Gas.


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