The City Council today agreed to hold a hearing on a problem that is costing residents money, contributing to environmental problems and putting the public at risk of explosions.
City Councilor Matt O'Malley (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain), who called for the hearing, cited a recent Harvard study that leaks from gas pipes in Boston are two to three more times as common as previously thought - and represent $90 million in lost natural gas and release a gas that is a far more potent contributor to the glasshouse effect than carbon dioxide. Executives from National Grid and Eversource - which serves part of Hyde Park - would be asked to attend.
O'Malley also pointed to a Dorchester house explosion in April, 2014 that sent 12 people to the hospital and tore the house from its foundation.
"They came in and fixed it [after the explosion] but there's no long term plan [to deal with leaks] and that's what I hope this hearing will do," O'Malley said.
Councilor Josh Zakim (Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway, Mission Hill) wants companies to fix existing pipelines, some of which are decades old, instead of just building new ones that will eventually also leak and harm people and the environment.
"Utilities have no financial incentive to fix these issues," Zakim said. "The cost is absorbed by the ratepayer. We need to make sure that utilities, the city and other stakeholders are all on the same page."
This is the second natural-gas issue O'Malley is dealing with. He was one of the first elected officials to side with West Roxbury residents fighting a high-pressure natural-gas line that would pump natural gas into National Grid's distribution system at Grove and Centre streets, across from the West Roxbury quarry.