SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Columbia Gas has agreed to pay the City of Springfield $650,000 to settle claims from the downtown gas explosion that injured 18 people last November.
The City announced Thursday morning that the settlement will pay for property damage, call back costs for injured personnel, and other costs. Additionally, the Columbia Gas Foundation will be making a $200,000 grant to the City to help re-develop the Worthington Street area affected by the blast.
It is important to note that this settlement is for the City specifically, not any of the privately owned buildings damaged in the explosion. Individual claims for wages and medical bills will still be handled on a case-by-case basis.
Among those injured in the explosion were 14 Springfield firefighters, two of whom still aren’t back to work. Fire Commissioner Joseph Conant told 22News how his department has changed its procedures since the explosion.
"We started evacuating a little quicker, made our evacuation areas a little broader, and we are more conscientious of the dangers of gas. And when we go to a call, there is no 'routine call' anymore," Conant said.
Mayor Domenic Sarno thanked Attorney John Liebel, the City Law Department’s chief of litigation, as well as other members of the department for helping them reach the settlement. He also had kind words for Columbia Gas.
“I would like to acknowledge Columbia Gas, who immediately stepped up and took ownership of the accident, and worked with the city for a successful resolution,” Sarno said in a statement. “Out of this tragedy comes an opportunity; this is the beginning of a revitalization of a significant section of downtown Springfield.”