When it comes to issues involving Columbia Gas, town leaders are being extra cautious.

The Select Board wants Columbia Gas to show a safety plan before the board votes on gas main replacement work the utility is seeking to do in Andover.

The company, which was at the center of last year's Merrimack Valley natural gas disaster, wants to replace 2,300 feet of cast iron and bare steel gas main on Hidden Road, Gardner Avenue and Forbes Street. The replacement would keep the gas main at the same pressure it is now — intermediate — instead of increasing it to a high-pressure main.

Columbia Gas representatives met with the Select Board last week to ask permission to do the work.

The board, however, hesitated to move forward with the project before ensuring total safety for anyone who would be affected by the work.

"I have to be honest, I can't tell you how disappointed I am and continue to be with Columbia Gas," said Select Board member Christian Huntress. "I expect before I vote on any of these, that I will see a detailed presentation on the safety procedures that have been put in place since Sept. 13. This was no small incident. This was a big deal to this community."

 

Company representatives will come before the board on Sept. 24 to provide a safety presentation and again seek approval of the work.

Columbia representatives said in seven to 10 years, the utility would come back to upgrade the main to high pressure through the same infrastructure installed now, having less of an impact on the community.

Columbia Gas also sought approval from the board to install 40 feet of gas main from the existing main on Charlotte Drive. The company also wants to replace 2,800 feet of cast iron and bare steel gas main on High Plain Road, and 1,000 feet on Virginia and Shirley roads.

The work on High Plain, Virginia and Shirley roads would replace the low-pressure gas main with high-pressure plastic pipes.

The work would take about 60 days to complete, and 64 resident homes or businesses would be affected by the gas work, representatives at the meeting said.

While the work is being done, gas service could be out in homes for up to eight hours. Residents and businesses would be able to coordinate the eight-hour time frame with Columbia Gas workers.

 

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