LAWRENCE (CBS) – The President of Columbia Gas says he sees “no cause” to fire anybody so far after over-pressurization in the company’s gas lines led to more than 80 explosions in people’s homes. He spoke to WBZ-TV one-on-one as he checked in with gas line repair crews on Tuesday.
“I see no cause to fire anybody with what I know so far,” Steve Bryant said. Other than an “over-pressurization” situation, he had no updates to offer regarding the cause of the explosions.
Crews planning to “purge” the gas lines to prepare them for replacement Tuesday were delayed because of rain. Still, Bryant says his company will meet its November 19th deadline for restoring gas to all affected customers.
“I’m not going to suggest that everybody is happy,” he said. “I’m not even going to suggest that anybody is happy.” Bryant said he’s grateful for patience – which he knows is wearing thin for affected customers.
That list of customers includes North Andover resident Tucker Wallace and his family. They have hopped from hotel to hotel since the explosions, and are struggling to come up with the money to front the cost.
“My kids [are] cold at night, and having to come sleep with us in bed,” he said. “We’re all snuggling like we’re in a tent or something. It’s just not right.”
Wallace and his wife have called Columbia Gas every day, and say they’re frustrated because they haven’t had any crews on their street.
Bryant said he’s making a promise to families like Tucker Wallace’s. “I just want to make it clear that we will make it up to you,” he told WBZ. “It will be a long road to build back the confidence of our customers. And we intend to do that.”
In the interim – it’s VISA gift cards, hot plates (which multiple towns have run out of and ordered more), and space heaters – all Bryant says the company can do the hold people over for two more months without gas. For those whose homes cannot accommodate space heaters, the company hasn’t yet figured out a solution.
Bryant promised that no matter what, the company plans to pay back all customers for any damages that were caused by the explosions.
“Yes, I do,” he said when asked if Columbia Gas will be able to survive the Merrimack Gas Fire crisis financially. “There will be a host of considerations about what is the responsibility of Columbia Gas, and we will step up to that responsibility,” he said.
Gas line “purging” is expected to start Wednesday when the rain subsides.