Massachusetts Senate unanimously passes natural gas leaks bill

BOSTON (WWLP) - After delays last week, the Massachusetts Senate finally debated on a bill that would force utility companies to fix leaky gas pipes.

There are 21,000 miles of old gas pipeline across the state, and now the Massachusetts legislature wants to force utility companies to identify and categorize natural gas leaks.

“With our aging gas and delivery infrastructure here in the Commonwealth, we know that we need to do something. We have to act and to make sure we address this problem, hopefully, to prevent explosions and gas leaks from happening again,” said Senator Don Humason of Westfield.

The bill comes more than a year after a gas explosion leveled a building on Worthington Street in downtown Springfield and now western Massachusetts Senators are taking extra precaution to prevent history from repeating.

“Especially with the amount of redevelopment that will be going on in the city of Springfield, we’re going to have to be very, very careful and make sure this is handled properly,” said Senator Gale Candaras of Wilbraham.

Lawmakers want to create a new grading system that would identify the most serious gas leaks and repair those immediately. Natural gas leaks near schools, hospitals and courthouses would also be top priority. Leaks that don’t pose imminent danger would have up to a year to be fixed.

Western Massachusetts lawmakers had a strong voice during the debate and the bill was passed unanimously, 39-0.

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