"Methane Hazard Lurks in Boston's Aging, Leaking Gas Pipes, Study Says"

"Study of 100 randomly selected pipeline leaks revealed the existence of 'superemitters' and potential explosion hazards."

"Hidden beneath Boston lies a vast network of aging iron and steel pipes that leak natural gas from thousands of points under the city. A small number of these leaks emit large volumes of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, while others pose an immediate explosion hazard, according to a recent peer-reviewed study published in the journal Environmental Pollution.

The study looked at 100 randomly selected leaks from leak-prone cast iron pipes, the oldest of which had been in service since 1893. Fifteen out of 100 leaks measured in 2012 and 2014 were found to be Grade 1—leaks presenting an immediate explosion hazard—and were reported right away to the local utility company for repair. Of all 100 leaks measured, seven, known as "superemitters," accounted for 50 percent of the emissions.

"We're at a point, in the Northeast in particular, where we haven't been able to revitalize infrastructure as quickly as perhaps we should," said lead author Margaret Hendrick, a Ph.D. candidate in Boston University's Earth & Environment department. "This is a problem that is not specific to natural gas pipes. We see this in our roads, our bridges, even our electric grid.""

Phil McKenna reports for InsideClimate News March 30, 2016.

Source: InsideClimate News, 04/01/2016