February 20, 2014

It’s been just over five years now since a gas explosion, on a frigid Sunday morning in January 2009, literally blew apart the 76 Eastern Ave. house owned by Gloucester police officer Wayne Sargent, rocked the neighborhood around it, and had much of the city on edge for weeks through a number of reported leaks and repairs that followed.

All of us, of course, are grateful that Sargent miraculously survived that blast, which — among other things — blew the house’s front door into the middle of the street, and incredibly drove a rear cellar bulkhead some 20 feet up into a tree.

Now, five years later, we should be grateful on another count — that Sargent, whose home has been rebuilt, has also been able to work with state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante on legislation aimed at shoring up gas inspections, repair records and other safety measures on a bill now winding through the Legislature.

Ferrante, who joined her House colleagues in approving the bill and sending it on to the Senate last week, says the measure will enhance the state’s ability to both guard against natural gas leaks and bolster public utility safety, while also creating an infrastructure replacement program to accelerate the process replacing aging pipelines and lower capital costs for companies and gas rates for consumers... MORE