Columbia Gas pleads guilty to causing blasts that killed 1

Massachusetts

FILE – In this Sep. 21, 2018, file photo, fire investigators pause while searching the debris at a home which exploded following a gas line failure in Lawrence, Mass. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston announced Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, that Columbia Gas Columbia agreed to plead guilty to violating the Pipeline Safety Act following an investigation into the catastrophic gas explosions. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

BOSTON (AP) — A utility company has pleaded guilty to causing a series of natural gas explosions in Massachusetts that killed one person and damaged dozens of homes.

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts’ president entered the plea in Boston’s federal court on Monday on behalf of the company responsible for the blasts that tore through three communities in the Merrimack Valley, north of Boston, in September 2018.

As part of the plea agreement, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts will pay $53 million for violating the Pipeline Safety Act.

It’s the largest criminal fine ever imposed under the pipeline safety law.

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