After blasts, state orders natural gas safety review

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BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts regulators are calling for an outside review of the state's natural gas distribution system in the wake of gas explosions and fires that affected three communities earlier this month.

The Department of Public Utilities said Wednesday it would name an "independent evaluator" to conduct a statewide assessment of both the physical integrity of the system and the policies and practices of companies that distribute natural gas.

The agency says the companies themselves will be required to pay for the study under an emergency declaration issued by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker after the Sept. 13 disaster. The blasts in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover killed one person, injured some 25 others and damaged or destroyed dozens of homes and businesses.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause.

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