BOSTON (CBS) – The state will hire an independent evaluator to look into how safe the natural gas distribution system is across Massachusetts.

In their announcement Wednesday, the Department of Public Utilities said local gas companies will pay for the inspection, which will be done in addition to regularly scheduled inspections.

“The examination will complement, but will not duplicate, the investigation of the National Transportation Safety Board, which focuses on the gas incident on September 13, 2018 in the Merrimack Valley and its potential causes,” DPU said in a statement.

Once hired, the evaluator will look at each company’s low, medium and high pressure gas mains, their policies and practices.

An over-pressurization in the lines of Columbia Gas on September 13 led to more than 80 explosions in homes in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. A young man was killed when one blast brought a chimney down onto his car.

Thousands of Columbia Gas customers still have no heat or hot water. The company said it hopes to have all service restored by November 19.


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