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Report: Last Decade Has Seen Too Many Methane Gas Leaks


Monday, June 27, 2022   

A new report found in the last decade, there have been nearly 2,600 methane gas pipeline incidents in the U.S. serious enough to require reporting to the federal government; one leak every roughly 40 hours.

Of those incidents, 850 resulted in fires, and more than 325 in an explosion, killing more than 100 people and injuring more than 600.

Deirdre Cummings, consumer program director for the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, said Massachusetts knows the dangers of gas leaks all too well. She pointed to the 2018 Merrimack Valley gas explosions at Columbia Gas in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. There was one death, 22 hospitalizations and 50,000 residents were evacuated.

"Unfortunately, what we found in this report is that house explosions and leaking pipelines aren't isolated incidences," Cummings reported. "They're the result of an energy system that pipes dangerous, explosive gas across the country, and actually through our neighborhoods. "

She argued it is time to move away from gas in this country and toward safer and cleaner renewable and geothermal energy. According to the report, emissions from the 2,600 leaks over the last decade are equivalent to 2.4 million passenger cars driven for a year.

Randi Soltysiak, spokesperson for Mothers Out Front, noted in Somerville, residents fought for two years to get energy company Eversource to fix a string of leaks blamed for killing all the trees along a half-mile stretch of a major corridor for pedestrians, bikes, cars, trucks, buses and trains.

"In addition to causing explosions, gas leaks are associated with asthma," Soltysiak pointed out. "And can cause other problems for human health and well-being by killing trees, resulting in hotter cities with worse air quality."

She added regulatory reforms are needed as well to transition away from methane gas. Research shows methane emissions from gas infrastructure and use in U.S. cities are underestimated by the Environmental Protection Agency, and in Boston, methane emissions are six times higher than reports from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

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