Local

New Mass. Law Requires Prompt Action On Gas Leaks

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent
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A new law requires better repairs of gas leaks in Mass. (WBZ-TV).

A new law requires better repairs of gas leaks in Mass. (WBZ-TV).

SPRINGFIELD (CBS) – On Monday, Gov. Patrick signed a bill which forces utilities to pay close attention to natural gas leaks.

As the ITEAM first reported a few months ago, there are thousands of them throughout Massachusetts.

And as Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve tells us, many people say these improvements are long overdue.

“I thought we are under attack, I thought we was under a terrorist attack or something!”

Marla Dickinson of Dorchester will never forget that day in April when a natural gas leak claimed the house across the street.

“It lifted off the foundation and yeah it really blew up!,” Dickinson said.

Luckily, no one was killed. On Monday, the house on Hansborough Street is gone. Just the concrete foundation remains as a reminder of what gas leaks can do.

It is estimated there are some 20,000 gas leaks across the Commonwealth today, most due to aging pipes and some 150 years old.

Last November the ITEAM told you how a Boston University Professor, Nathan Phillips, was mapping the true number of leaks across the state. He found 3,400 in Boston alone. The ITEAM also showed you his research van, outfitted with gas detecting equipment, canvassing the city.

The governor on Monday signed into law a bill requiring gas companies to categorize all leaks the same way while establishing time lines for repairs to the most serious.

Grade one gas leaks present the greatest danger and must be taken care of immediately.

According to numbers made public the end of 2013, National Grid had 44 grade one leaks and 132 grade two leaks. The new law says grade two leaks must now be fixed in 12 months. NSTAR had no grade one leaks and 81 grade two.

Dickinson said, “I am glad they are doing something about it because you should not have to live in fear of explosions.”

Home owners will be paying a couple of bucks more each month to help expedite these repairs. But, the utilities say in the long run, those repairs will save rate payers about 40 million dollars each year.

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