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Cost of Providence gas leak tops $130K

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The costs associated with a natural gas leak that shut down a Providence highway for hours last year total more than $130,000, Target 12 has learned. 

It’s unclear who will ultimately cover those costs but a state official says it won’t be ratepayers. 

The gas leak on March 29, 2017 forced dozens of people in Providence to evacuate, and Rhode Island Hospital lost its gas service for hours. 

According to the federal incident report obtained by Target 12 through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, an estimated 19 million cubic feet of natural gas was released into the air. The cost of the lost gas is estimated to be $59,028. 

The incident report also outlined $50,000 worth of property damage, a $12,000 estimate for the emergency response, and $10,000 for “other costs” that are unspecified.  

The federal government classified the type of leak as a “connection failure.” 

At the time of the leak, R.I. Division of Public Utilities and Carriers (DPUC) Chief Compliance Inspector Don Ledversis said it appeared construction work near the gas main caused the malfunction.

“An outside contractor from Massachusetts was working on this pipeline, around it, and undermined it,” Ledversis explained. 

Target 12 has learned that contractor, United Civil, signed a settlement stipulation that came with a set $350 fine, according to DPUC. 

DPUC also said it fined National Grid $101,000 for violations related to the gas leak. 

Ted Kresse, a spokesperson for National Grid, told Target 12 in a statement, “National Grid fully cooperated with the post-investigation of the Manchester Gate Station incident.  Although the event resulted from an independent contractor working on equipment that was not owned by National Grid, we accepted our responsibility as the local natural gas distributor.”

“We paid the fine more than a year ago and have made additional improvements to the facility,” Kresse added. 

Nobody was injured as a result of the gas leak. 

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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