LAWRENCE (CBS) – Columbia Gas has just two more days to check hundreds of gas lines or face a hefty fine.

The company says it is on track to inspect all 713 natural gas service lines before the Department of Public Works’ Friday deadline. If crews don’t finish, Columbia Gas will be fined $1 million.

“We understand that while these verifications are an important part of our ongoing work in the Merrimack Valley, they are also an additional cause of frustration for our customers across this community,” said Mark Kempic, president and chief operating officer of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts. “Our employees remain deeply committed to restoring and maintaining the trust and confidence of all our customers and we are working as quickly and safely as possible to conduct this work in partnership with the DPU.”

On Oct. 1, the DPU gave the gas company until Nov. 15 to check meters that had been moved to the outside of homes and businesses following the gas disaster last year – an additional 2,200 sites. Active service lines will not be affected and there will be no disruption to gas service.

Last year, a series of explosions and fires were caused by a gas line that became overpressurized during a routine replacement of old cast iron pipelines in Lawrence.

A teenager died, dozens of other people were injured and more than 100 structures were destroyed or damaged. Thousands of residents and businesses in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover were also left without natural gas service for heat and hot water for months in some cases.


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