Boston: Snapshot of natural gas leaks

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One of the nation's oldest major cities, Boston's aging natural gas pipes are prone to corrosion and leaks.

City snapshot

  • How many leaks: Our readings indicated an average of about one leak for each mile we drove.
  • Utility: We mapped areas serviced by National Grid, a shareholder owned gas and electric company serving areas of New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, which provides gas to most of Boston.
  • Pipe materials: Nearly 45% of the pipes are made from cast iron or other corrosion- and leak-prone materials.
  • Age of pipes: More than half of the pipes are more than 50 years old.
  • Dates mapped: Cars with air sensors took readings between March and June 2013. This map might not represent current leaks, due to repairs or other changes.
  • Progress: In June 2014, Governor Patrick signed a strong bill to accelerate detection and repair of leaks that pose safety threats. This begins a process to plan and fund long-term pipeline upgrades, which was key to Indianapolis’ success.

Explore Boston map

Most leaks don't pose an immediate threat to safety or health, but some can. We have shared this data with National Grid.

If you ever smell gas, or have any reason to suspect a problem, experts say to immediately exit the building or area, then call the authorities. For information specific to National Grid, see their safety page.

More about why leaks are a problem »

 

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Live in Massachusetts? Ask state officials to address leaks

Not enough resources are currently provided for pipeline repairs and upgrades, meaning leaks can continue for months, and often years. Tell the head of Massachusetts' public utility department how much this issue matters to you.

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If you don’t live in Massachusetts, find out how you can help.