January 2, 2019

Baker signs gas safety bill

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Gov. Charlie Baker has signed a bill that provides oversight of natural gas work in the state.

Utilities operating in Massachusetts will face new oversight on natural gas work under legislation Gov. Charlie Baker signed nearly as soon as he received it from lawmakers Monday afternoon.

The bill, which Baker originally filed on Nov. 20, implements a recommendation the National Transportation Safety Board made in its ongoing review of the Sept. 13 natural gas fires and explosions that killed one person and damaged homes and businesses throughout Andover, North Andover and Lawrence.

It requires that all natural gas work that might pose a material risk to the public be reviewed and approved by a certified professional engineer.

The Senate took its final vote on the bill (H 5005) at 1:13 p.m. Monday, and Baker signed it into law at 2:14 p.m.

"This bill will make Massachusetts' natural gas infrastructure safer by requiring all utilities to follow the NTSB's additional oversight measures developed in the aftermath of the Merrimack Valley explosions," Baker said in a statement. "The Department of Public Utilities will work closely with natural gas companies to ensure all work is held to the highest industry and public safety standards for the protection of our communities."

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