Families Affected by Gas Disaster Will Be Made Whole, Says Utility Exec
LAWRENCE -- Families affected by the Sept. 13 gas fires and explosions will be made completely financially whole as part of ongoing restoration efforts, the head of the utility company NiSource pledged Monday, as federal lawmakers gathered in Lawrence and pressed him for answers around the overpressurization incident that displaced thousands in the Merrimack Valley, damaged homes and businesses and killed one person.
Joe Hamrock, the president and CEO of NiSource, made the commitment under questioning by U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, who asked for the guarantee during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation field hearing.
Hamrock said he takes responsibility for the tragedy as CEO, and is motivated to ensure nothing like it ever happens again. Markey, in response, said he was not sure Hamrock should be allowed to continue in his role.
Rep. Niki Tsongas said it has become clear that the situation was “entirely preventable” and that Columbia Gas had a “dangerously misguided and tragically incomplete process.”
Rep. Seth Moulton said he wanted to make sure the utility understood “how fundamentally absurd this situation is in the first place.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren drew applause after grilling Hamrock and Columbia Gas Massachusetts President Steve Bryant on their compensation, asking if their pay had been reduced after the disaster.
“The people in this room have been injured,” Warren said. “You have not.” Hamrock said he recommended that his bonus be withheld, and Bryant said a “significant portion” of his pay is incentive that he does not think should be paid this year and will not accept if it is offered.