In March 2015, Massachusetts’ utilities were required to file a report with the state identifying natural gas leaks across the state. Some of these leaks have existed for decades, as the utilities are required to fix only leaks that are considered explosive.
In Salem, National Grid originally identified 92 active gas leaks. Some have been repaired, leaving 55 leaks still pouring methane into our environment.
Gas leaks have been a problem for decades. The oldest leak in our city was reported in 1992. Even if these leaks are not an imminent danger to the community, they cause serious health and environmental hazards, including:
- Killing trees by suffocating their roots
- Increasing rates of asthma and other respiratory disorders
- Releasing methane, an extreme potent green house gas, into the atmosphere
In addition, the utilities currently have little incentive to repair leaks, because the cost of leaked gas is passed on to consumers. A bill that would have ended this practice failed to pass the legislature in 2016.