SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – There are 566 active gas leaks in the City of Springfield, 90 gas leaks in the City of Northampton, and nearly 2,500 across the 60 cities and towns served by Columbia Gas of Massachusetts.
These are called ‘grade 3’ or ‘gusher’ leaks, where Methane, a greenhouse gas, is leaking through ruptured cast iron underground pipes that are more than 100 years old in some cases. Columbia Gas is partnering with two advocacy organizations to fix up to 200 leaks a year; it’s an 8 year plan.
Columbia Gas identify the worst leaks and fix those first, and have a 15 year plan to replace all of the leaking underground infrastructure. They said customers would pay slightly more before eventually paying less.
Stephen Bryant, the President of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, told 22News, “We are engaged in a 15 year program to replace all the infrastructure that is prone to leak. It’s the best answer for the communities we serve. It’s the best answer for our customers and it will have the best net impact on the environment.”
The average cost to fix each leak is about $4,000, but each leak is costing the customer $1,300 in lost gas every year.
Methane is a strong greenhouse gas 30 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. Columbia Gas said they don’t have any evidence to suggest a health risk to customers.