Too many "near misses"

National Grid’s current approach to gas leaks is a piecemeal whack-a-mole approach with far too many ‘near misses’ to ignore. There are also too many ‘good catches’ that rely on citizen reports such as the Grade 1 hazardous gas leak Nathan Phillps discovered between City Hall and Eversource substation.

The Homer Street leak required an emergency response because a Grade 1 leak is an explosive level of methane, a high probability/high consequence condition that is an imminent hazard to people and property.​

In fact, Newton’s leaky pipelines leave us far too vulnerable to hazards created by co-located electrical infrastructure, extreme weather such as downpours, flooding and freezing and thawing cycles, and related geo hazards such as soil erosion and other corrosive conditions.

There are also hazards from construction activity such as the May 1 high pressure pipe break at the demolition site of the old Chestnut Hill theater.

Ten years ago the legislature thought replacing pipes would reduce safety risks and wasted lost gas from aging pipelines. It has not. Worse, we know that “repair” doesn’t mean a gas leak is fixed. Even with repeated costly excavations, many gas leaks such as a recent Grade 1 leak on Walnut Street continue to leak as new leaks are added to the list. And any leak can become more significant at any time.

Gas is not safe, not clean, not green. Senator Cynthia Creem and Representative Kay Khan have introduced legislation to reduce the risk, waste, pollution and costly excesses of the current gas system and to promote clean non-combusting renewable energy, conservation and efficiencies.

City Councilor Alison Leary has emerged as a leading advocate for measures to address the hazards of gas leaks in Newton and throughout the Commonwealth. She is calling on her colleagues to support Representative Armini’s and Senator Creem’s Bill H.3137 / Bill SD.2603 Empowering Municipal Voices. It would give local officials the authority to demand more transparency and accountability from utility companies.

Even with transformative legislation, it will take many years to transition to safer energy systems. So it is vital that we report the gas leaks wherever we smell that rotten egg odor.

CALL 911 or​ NGRID Gas Leak Hotline 24/7​:​1–800–233–5325