Springfield, Columbia Gas Reach Settlement Over Downtown Gas Explosion

Springfield officials have reached a settlement with Columbia Gas Company related to last November’s natural gas explosion that heavily damaged a section of the city’s downtown.

Columbia Gas will pay $650,000 to cover the costs of public safety personnel responding to the November 23rd, 2012 blast, as well as damage to city property.

“Streets, sidewalks…any type of water mains or public utilities that run under the road there, ” says Jim Leydon, a spokesperson for Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Leydon says the city will get an additional $200,000 from the utility’s foundation to help develop a revitalization plan for the affected area.

“It’s the first step in a process that the city will take in how to utilize the space down there to determine the best use…of some of the land and move forward accordingly,” he says.

One building  was completely leveled. Several others were damaged beyond repair, and as many as two dozen other structures within a 3-block radius of the explosion sustained damage, including shattered windows.  There were no fatalities, but 18 people, many of them first responders, were injured.

A spokesperson for Columbia Gas says while talks  between the utility and  some affected residents and businesses are still ongoing, the vast majority of claims from the explosion have been settled.