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National Grid Shuts Off Gas To Hundreds In Woburn; State Orders Moratorium

WOBURN (CBS) -- Workers went door-to-door in Woburn shutting off gas to about 300 customers after a replacement worker mistakenly over-pressurized the gas system. After the incident, the state ordered National Grid to stop all work pending a safety review.

National Grid says the situation is under control, the area is safe and there is no apparent damage to the system. Homes near Wyman and Hart streets were impacted.

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A worker checks a gas meter in Woburn (WBZ-TV)

"While performing routine maintenance on a regulator station in Woburn at approximately 11:30 a.m., a National Grid gas technician inadvertently introduced excess gas into a portion of our system," National Grid spokeswoman Danielle Williamson said.

She said the error was realized within minutes and the system returned to normal operating pressures.

National Grid technicians will start relighting homes on Tuesday morning and the process will continue through Thursday. Locksmiths are helping police and gas workers get into homes if needed.

Woburn Mayor Scott Galvin stressed that the community is not in danger. "There is absolutely no harm to anybody, any of the 300 impacted homes or anyone else in the city of Woburn," he said. "Everybody is safe."

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Police and a National Grid truck at a blocked-off street in Woburn (WBZ-TV)

An over-pressurization in the lines of Columbia Gas on September 13 led to more than 80 explosions in homes in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. A young man was killed when one blast brought a chimney down onto his car. At the peak of the disaster, about 10,000 homes had no gas service, heat or hot water.

Union workers with National Grid have been locked out since the summer in a contract dispute. Hours after the incident, locked out workers protested as Marcy Reed, the president of National Grid, reassured customers that the situation is under control.

The Department of Public Utilities ordered a moratorium on all non-essential work, pending a safety review. National Grid will also be required to have an inspector on location for all work that could lead to abnormal pressurization until the review is complete.

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