Skip to comments.Thousands of Potentially Harmful Natural Gas Leaks Found in Washington, D.C.
Posted on 01/25/2014 4:05:59 PM PST by EBH
High levels of natural gas are escaping from the aging pipes beneath the streets of the nations capital, creating potentially harmful concentrations in some locations, a new study has found. Natural gas leaks pose explosion risks, health concerns, and contribute to climate change. The paper, which appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, also provides information that could help companies justify additional financial incentives for fixing leaks quickly.
Robert Jackson and colleagues note that natural gas leakage is a serious problem on multiple levels, including impacts on the economy and climate. Property damage is estimated at $133 million annually, and by one estimate, gas customers in the US between 2000 and 2011 absorbed the cost of escaping gas to the tune of $20 billion. And on the global scale, leakage can contribute to climate change. Methane is a potent GHGfar more potent than carbon dioxide.
But theres also the potential threat to human life and health. On average, natural gas pipeline accidents in the US kill 17 people a year. Also, methane, the primary component of natural gas, can react with nitrogen oxides and spur the formation of ozone, which can aggravate asthma and other lung conditions.
Figuring out how to put a cap on leaks would mitigate these issues. But first, researchers have to know where the gas is coming from. A previous study the team conducted in Boston mapped out about 3,400 pipeline leaks along the citys 758 miles of roads. The researchers decided to make a similar map in the nations capital.
In January and February 2013, they drove all of the 1,500 miles of Washington, D.C., roads with an instrument that took methane readings close to the ground every 1.1 seconds. They found nearly 6,000 leaks, with the highest concentration of methane at about 45 times what would be expected with no leak.
At 19 sites with high concentrations, the researchers tested the manholes. Some manholes had methane concentrations as high as 500,000 parts per millionabout 10 times greater than the threshold at which explosions can occur. Researchers notified the gas company, and a follow-up test in June 2013 found that nine manholes still had dangerously high levels of methane.
The research suggests that the leaks are coming from citys aging cast-iron pipe infrastructure, which makes up about 35% of the citys main pipes.
Financial incentives and targeted programs among companies, public utility commissions and scientists to reduce leaks and replace old cast-iron pipes will improve consumer safety and air quality, save money, and lower greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers conclude.
Just tell ‘em to shut their mouths.
Combine that with the gasbaggery coming from the Capitol and the White House and it would be reasonable to think the place is ready to blow.
Just tell em to shut their mouths
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That kind of gas leak and hot air is usually accompanied by Bovine Scat in large quantities.
Not to mention Mexican rstaurants
Just fill the pipes with air and let the residents help save the Erf by not burning gas anymore.
Not the way I’d like to see our corrupt and seditious political hacks removed from office but....
Back when I was young and had a very sensitive nose, I could smell that stuff everywhere. I remember walking around a residential area of North Little Rock, AR and remarking how strong it smelled. Probably the people living there never even noticed it but I sure did.
Let’s see 435+2 plus 9....
Hopefully, the smoker of choice Boehner or Zero will walk by and the problem will resolve itself....
QUICK ,throw matches
I don’t wish any of them any harm just very early retirements. Maybe keep Biden around somehow for his entertainment value ?
Given that the overnight low here in Aiken County, South Carolina was 18 and given that 18 is many degrees below normal, seems to me a generous helping of GHG would be a good thing.
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It’s coming from Obama.
Consider that this information has even been leaked(pun) and some industrious terrorist with a match?
Sigh...sometimes it amazes me what gets out to the public.
Ya know, they do say he has a nasty smell about him.
“about 10 times greater than the threshold at which explosions can occur. “
Well if its above the explosive level then there’s no issue! /s of course!
Natural gas has a small combustion range, between 4-14% concentration burning the fastest at 10%. Anything more or less will not burn, but if there is a heavy concentration, somewhere close by it is in that explosive range.
Leaks happen in old steel and cast iron systems, corrosion protection was not the greatest decades ago. Most utilities have periodic driving or walking surveys over mains and services with electronic equipment to detect leaks. If any are found, further investigation by making test holes in the area would tell if it is something that needs immediate attention.
One would think if the case here were actually as described immediate attention would be required.
I was thinking the same. I watch mythbusters enough to know that if they overdo it, there is no earth shattering kaboom.
Most gas lines over 20 years old are steel, not ductile iron.
I didn’t realize there were any out there.
Did McConnell fart?
Well there is hope that the aging infrastructure and a match will take care of what the ballot box hasn’t in past years.
I stopped reading as soon as I saw the word “climate change”
I stopped reading as soon as I saw the word “climate change”
I guess the answer is to spend more. After all, it's only free government money.
You had to know what was going to happen to the thread!
If a private utility is responsible for the gas mains, this is surprising. If the fedgov or a municipal utility is in charge, no surprise.
That was just wafting over the river from downtown LR at the Capitol Building;)
I noticed that very little hard information was given. I suspect that's because, like global warming, the real data doesn't justify even a news story.