3,356 Natural Gas Leaks Found Under Boston's Streets

In 6 locations, gas build-ups exceed the threshold for explosions

By on November 21st, 2012 21:21 GMT

In the aftermath of hurricane Sandy and its wreaking havoc on the US East Coast, specialists working with the Boston University and the Duke University have decided to have a closer look at this American city's pipeline system.

Their findings were published this November 20 in the online journal Environmental Pollution, and most people agree that they are startling, to say the least.

Thus, these researchers found that, as a result of old age, the urban pipelines in charge of transporting natural gas below Boston's streets are now leaking from more than 3,000 different spots.

More precisely, a high-precision methane analyzer carefully tucked away in a GPS-equipped car helped the researchers identify and document a total of 3,356 separate natural leaks beneath this American city.

Needless to say, leaking natural gas pipelines are anything but environmentally friendly, given the fact that this hydrocarbon gas mixture contains significant amounts of methane and other chemical compounds that contribute to climate change and global warming.

As well as this, leaking natural gas pipelines can easily translate into accidents that cost money and might even cost human lives.

Specialist Nathan Phillips, presently working with the Department of Earth and Environment at the Boston University, made a case of how, “While our study was not intended to assess explosion risks, we came across six locations in Boston where gas concentrations exceeded the threshold above which explosions can occur.”

“Repairing these leaks will improve air quality, increase consumer health and safety, and save money. We just have to put the right financial incentives into place,” argued Robert B. Jackson, a Professor of Global Environmental Change at Duke University.

For the time being, these researchers plan to keep investigating the matter at hand. 

Their goal is to try pinning down the exact effects these natural gas leaks are to have on public health, the environment and Boston's economy.

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