With Massachusetts lawmakers developing major energy legislation that could require utility companies to repair more natural gas leaks, writer Michele Wick wrote a commentary on the issue for New England Public Radio relating to a personal experience with a natural gas leak.
Her family had recently converted off natural gas and disconnected from the gas main when she learned that methane, the principle component of natural gas, was seeping from the street in front of her driveway.
“It was one of 91 leaks scattered across Northampton’s brittle cast iron and bare steel pipes. There are more than 20,000 methane leaks across the state of Massachusetts. That’s billions of cubic feet of fugitive methane. And it’s the gas customers who pay for that. Nearly $40 million a year.
“The thought of natural gas going rogue is scary, so leaks are rated. Grade one leaks, deemed potentially explosive, pose an imminent threat to life, limb, and property and are scheduled for immediate repair. Grade threes are deemed ‘non-hazardous’ and require no particular plan to fix them. Boston’s oldest Grade 3 leak, located near Fenway Park, turned 30 years old in 2015.
“However, one person’s notion of safe is another person’s notion of reckless. Over the course of 20 years, methane traps at least 85 times more heat than carbon dioxide. That’s a lot of dangerous heat. It’s not just the explosive leaks we need to be worried about. It’s just as important to fix leaks that are hazardous to our climate.”
To read the New England Public Radio article, click here.
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