Boston Has a Methane Leak Every Mile, Non-Profit and Google Find

Google cars found the leaks in Boston's aging pipe system.

Screenshot from the EDF website
Screenshot from the EDF website
Boston’s aging piping system has more than one methane gas leak per mile, according to mapping by Non-profit Environmental Defense Fund, Google and Colorado State University released Wednesday.

Google StreetView cars were fitted with sensors that can identify leaks and estimate the size of the leak in Boston and two other cities, CBS Boston reports

Boston has the second oldest and largest natural gas infrastructure in the nation. 

Methane is an explosive hazard, and leaks can also cause damage to surrounding vegetation, even killing trees. EDF also reports on how the gas leakage is contributing to climate change.

Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Maeve responded to the prevalence of methane leaks by saying “this project underscores the importance of the Patrick Administration’s work to accelerate pipeline repairs and methane reductions” in a statement released Wednesday.

>> View the interactive maps here

Earlier this month, Governor Patrick signed into law a bill requiring all Grade 1 gas leaks, which are the most serious, to be repaired immediately, that Grade 2 leaks be repaired within 12 months, and Grade 3 leaks to be reevaluated. 

The legislation amends DPU’s ability to fine gas companies for violations of gas pipeline safety rules, making it consistent with federal law. Companies can now be fined from $100,000 to $200,000 per violation up to $2 million.

EDF found that in Boston about 42% of the pipes are made from cast iron or other corrosion- and leak-prone materials and more than half of the pipes are more than 50 years old.

Do these findings worry you? Let us know in the Comments section. 

Beth Doris Gusti July 17, 2014 at 12:58 PM
Two different gases, methane is from vegetation decomposing, not to be confused with natural gas.


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