Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has signed legislation funding an examination of the state’s natural gas distribution system, a move prompted by recent gas pipeline explosions, Kallanish Energy reports.
In September, gas explosions and resulting fires in the state’s Merrimack Valley killed one person, injured at least 24, and damaged or destroyed more than 100 homes, The Boston Herald newspaper reported.
The legislation, part of a larger spending bill, allocates $1.5 million for Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, a Texas-based consulting firm, to study Massachusetts’ gas distribution system and gas companies’ operating practices.
Audrey Schulman, co-founder and executive director of the Home Energy Efficiency Team, a Boston-based nonprofit that teaches people how to lower gas emissions and respond to gas leaks in their community, told the Herald Massachusetts has the second-oldest, leak-prone infrastructure in the nation, behind Baltimore, Maryland.
She said the state’s pipes include miles of outdated cast iron.
According to a report issued by the state’s Department of Public Utilities, Massachusetts had more than 34,000 reported gas leaks in 2017, nearly 7,500 of which were classified as “Grade 1” leaks, meaning they present an existing or probable hazard.
The state has been working quickly to replace its pipelines over the past couple of years–at a pace of 200 miles of pipes annually, Schulman said, according to the Herald.
“We’re literally sitting on bombs,” Schulman said. “The pipes in Massachusetts are past their well-use dates.”
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