New bill would require utility companies to grade gas leaks

Firefighters battle a fire after a building collapses in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014 (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

BOSTON (WWLP) – Gas leaks are popping up all over the state, prompting the State Senate to look closely at a bill that would grade the severity of a gas leak and expand natural gas services.

The Massachusetts Senate plans to debate on a bill that would change the way utility companies inspect and categorize gas leaks.

This comes weeks after a gas explosion leveled two New York City buildings, and more than a year after a gas explosion leveled a building on Worthington Street in Springfield.

The bill is timely, but the Senate says the issue has been on their radar for quite some time.

Sen. James Welch, (D) West Springfield, told 22News, “We realized that our infrastructure in general is one that is aging and our gas pipeline infrastructure is no different and needs to be monitored, it needs to be graded, and repairs need to commence.”

The bill would require utility companies to grade gas leaks from one, being the most severe, to three. Grade One gas leaks would require utility companies to schedule a fix immediately. Grade Two gas leaks would have up to a year.

The new bill would make repairing gas leaks in a school zone top priority and allow gas companies to propose plans to expand the availability of natural gas.

There are 20,000 confirmed natural gas leaks spanning 21,000 miles of pipeline across Massachusetts.

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