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Thousands of Natural Gas Leaks Found In Boston

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.

Earth 179

poofmeisterp writes "Due to old cast iron underground pipelines, natural gas leaks run amok in Boston, MA. '"While our study was not intended to assess explosion risks, we came across six locations in Boston where gas concentrations exceeded the threshold above which explosions can occur," Nathan Phillips, associate professor at BU, said in a statement.' With 'a device to measure methane' in a vehicle equipped with GPS, Duke and Boston University researchers created a nice little map showing the methane levels in parts per million at different points in the city. 'Repairing these leaks will improve air quality, increase consumer health and safety, and save money,' study researcher Robert B. Jackson, of Duke, said in a statement. 'We just have to put the right financial incentives into place.' It looks like money is an issue. Imagine that."

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179 comments

Spend more not do anything (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059097)

Let's say it costs $500 million to fix. But it only costs $200 million a year to leave it as is. Guess which option would get chosen.

Re:Spend more not do anything (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059183)

Well, I guess they would fix it! The investment would return after 2.5 years :-)
And then the profits would be increased ...

Re:Spend more not do anything (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059657)

Why? Once you've quantified the leak, then you can get the local utilities board to raise rates to compensate for the loss. Result: don't have to spend $500 million to fix it and you get your "customers" to pay extra to cover the loss. Win/win for the utility!

Re:Spend more not do anything (4, Informative)

Worthless_Comments (987427) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060233)

You can tell you're not a sleazy CEO. You raise rates to cover the cost of the leak, fix the leak anyway, and then leave the higher rates in place to profit even after you've made up your loss.

Re:Spend more not do anything (2)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060097)

Don't forget to factor in the cost of lawsuits when entire neighborhoods get vaporized!

Unless that was part of the $200m.

Does Boston really smell that bad? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059113)

Does Boston really smell that bad that no one could smell these gas leaks?

Re:Does Boston really smell that bad? (2)

lancelotlink (958750) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059295)

Well, now that the Charles River is, I believe, the cleanest water way in an urban city in the world, then other smells start to get noticed more.

Re:Does Boston really smell that bad? (5, Funny)

bhcompy (1877290) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059517)

That's like saying you're the smartest retard on the shortbus

Re:Does Boston really smell that bad? (1)

amck (34780) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059913)

Why? you can have clean rivers in Urban areas if you try.

For example, we now have trout returning to two main rivers in Dublin, Ireland (the Liffey and the Tolka, I believe).
Increasingly people are swimming (again?) in urban rivers in Europe. can be done.

Re:Does Boston really smell that bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059541)

Did that river ever catch fire?

Re:Does Boston really smell that bad? (2)

amck (34780) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059899)

Maybe not?

Methane on its own doesn't have a smell. For safety, another gas like methanethiol is typically added, so that people can detect leaks.
Perhaps these leaks are pure methane?

Re:Does Boston really smell that bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42060039)

Odorants would be added before the gas transitions to the distribution networks.

Re:Does Boston really smell that bad? (3, Informative)

tacokill (531275) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060695)

No, they are not pure methane. The DOT requires gas companies to put methyl mercaptan (mentioned above) in the gas stream specifically so we can smell leaks. As far as I know, all natural gas that is distributed in the US has mercaptans. If you've smelled "natural gas", propane, or butane, you are smelling the mercaptans as those gases are odorless.

Natty gas with H2S in it (aka: sour gas) smells like rotten eggs. However, at around 100ppm, you quit smelling it and you start dying instead. At 1000 ppm, one inhalation and you are dead.

Re:Does Boston really smell that bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42060157)

City Hall shouldn't have been so quick to award those franchise permits to Nathans Hot Dogs.

Shhh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059145)

"'Repairing these leaks will improve air quality, increase consumer health and safety, and save money,"

Gee, ya think?

Just don't tell the TERRORISTS.

Re:Shhh... (5, Funny)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059175)

Or go driving around boston with an open flame...

Re:Shhh... (1)

Applekid (993327) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059435)

It's a good thing the Olympic torch didn't get run through there

Re:Shhh... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059935)

Are you kidding? Watching someone holding the Olympic torch, running through the streets, leaving a trail of explosions in their wake would make for the most EPIC Olympic opening ceremony EVER!

Re:Shhh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059767)

Actually this is one of the types of detector used...

"Money is an issue" (5, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059185)

I'm sorry, but money is always an issue for literally everything. We live in a world of finite workers and resources, and thus the abstraction of that, which we call money, is an important limiting factor on any task, no matter what the risk or rewards. The amusing irony is that treating money like its not a factor makes money more of a factor, by causing the limitations to appear at unexpected times.

Re:"Money is an issue" (3, Insightful)

jhoegl (638955) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059297)

Finite eh?
1.6 mil workers in USA not employed.
Plastic/Steel/Copper pipes. I think Steel and Copper can be recycled.
Cost is valued based on revenue generated, not based on "Finite resources".

Re:"Money is an issue" (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059383)

In an immediate sense, which is part of why money is an abstraction rather than a literal stand-in. I'm not advocating neo-liberalism here, I'm just saying every choice to do something is an implicit choice to not do quite as much of something else.

Re:"Money is an issue" (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059441)

Those workers aren't employed because there aren't enough businesses with unfilled jobs to employ them. In turn, there aren't enough employers because there aren't enough people buying stuff, because people don't have enough money. So yeah, money is still the limiting factor.

And guess what it takes to recycle steel and copper? Time and resources (i.e. money).

Re:"Money is an issue" (4, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059771)

> Those workers aren't employed because there aren't enough businesses with unfilled jobs to employ them.

or.....

Those workers aren't employed because there aren't enough businesses with unfilled jobs, that they are qualified to be employed in.

There might, in fact, be plenty of jobs for people willing to learn how to work with steel and copper, but, in case you haven't noticed, picking up those skills isn't exactly high on most people's todo list.

Or as I said to someone the other day.... a college degree is great, but, a high tech manufacturing sector isn't going to keep its machines running, much less set them up and use them, on what you learned getting your MBA or history degree.

While its true, we need generic businessmen, and accountants, historians, and even telephone sanitizers; can we possibly admit that we have too many people aspiring to be on the "third ship" so to speak.

Re:"Money is an issue" (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060201)

It means we're working some people harder than we should and throwing others to the wolves for no good reason (and daddy needs that third yacht is NOT a good reason).

We have time and we have resources. They're just being malinvested in the lifestyles of the rich and shameless.

Re:"Money is an issue" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059479)

That really bugs me too. People who espouse such nonsense are fundamentally railing against reality itself. They want to be excluded from resource scarcity that requires economic allocation. They wish to be the modern day Cnut, believers in arbitrary mandates that somehow override reality. What bugs me even more is the ignorance of recent history that continues even with all the evidence in the world to the contrary. I see people speak of 'The right financial incentives in place' without recognizing that the reason infrastructure is in such a poor state is precisely because economic incentives have been distorted to encourage putting costs onto future generations. Politicians bribe voters in the present at the expense of our grandchildren. As the debt(monetary or otherwise as is the case in this article) grows, we should see more people acknowledging the unsustainable burden we are placing on those who don't deserve it. Yet all I see is more people clamoring to be shielded from reality. It is vile stuff.

Re:"Money is an issue" (3, Informative)

onkelonkel (560274) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059575)

My personal favorite version of this is "Even if it only saves one life, it will be worth it" usually uttered by some will intentioned lackwit who wants you or the government to spend a huge sum of money to fix some minor safety issue. The proper answer to this is "You are an idiot. If we spend that money on we can save many more lives. Why should all those people die so you can maybe save that one person"

Re:"Money is an issue" (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059487)

We live in a world of finite workers and resources, and thus the abstraction of that, which we call money, is an important limiting factor on any task, no matter what the risk or rewards.

I would disagree.
The problem is that the utility's liability is not high enough to motivate them to spend money fixing the problems.

As a thought experiment: Imagine that the city told the gas utility that there are going to be fines of $1 million per leak (for >3,300 leaks).
Suddenly, the limiting factor is time and labor, not money, because fixing the problem is cheaper than paying the fines.

Re:"Money is an issue" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059597)

Then the gas company would inform its customers that it could no longer provide gas service. Unintended consequences.

It all has to come from somewhere. Only the government can manufacture money, and even then it's at the expense of all the existing money (notice how much more everything costs recently??).

Re:"Money is an issue" (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060213)

And the city takes over the gas company and keeps the gas flowing.

Re:"Money is an issue" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42060653)

The money to fix the problem still has to come from somewhere. The city will face the same problems the private utility did. There is no free lunch.

Re:"Money is an issue" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059941)

There are several other compounding factors including:

Local Ordinances/Procedures (permits to dig up and fix pipe in roadways can be expensive...time also matters due to season, police/detail requirements, and municipal paving schedules)...once you have dug something up, fixed it, and reburied, and repaved the area. There are a whole series of inspections that have to be done to ensure that you (or more likely your contractor) has 1) fixed the issue, and 2) correctly restored the area (paving)...

State (and Federal) regulatory obligations...

Re:"Money is an issue" (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060131)

So, what you're saying is that money is not a factor when money is made into a factor? Color me confused.

Re:"Money is an issue" (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060371)

I think a better thought experiment would be the city removing obstacles in the utility's way making it cheaper for them to repair the leaks. For instance, why does it cost 1.5 mil to dig a hole and patch a pipe? If it is labor, suspend the minimum and/or prevailing wage requirements on those specific projects, perhaps lax some of the training requirements for the portions of the job that doesn't involve safety sensitive operations. Don't require the entire pipeline to be upgraded and allow just the portions that are bad and leaking to be fixed. Perhaps pick up the tab on repaving the roadway or parking lots or whatever the pipeline runs under. Perhaps streamlining the permitting processes for identified leaks and so on.

There are basically two choices to use when changing the motivation to fix something. You can either make it cost more to leave it alone, or make the cost of the repairs less to actually fix. I'm not sure why lots of people think the previous should be the preferred way.

Re:"Money is an issue" (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060153)

We always manage to find money for war (including the war on some drugs) and the TSA.

Unlike those, fixing the leaks would have a quantifiable benefit in addition to the more difficult to quantify safety improvements.

I would suggest spinning it as a potential terrorist threat, but fear the 'solution' would be DHS patrolling the streets confiscating lighters.

Re:"Money is an issue" (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060307)

That's a different argument. I agree that there is misallocation of resources, but to say "money doesn't matter" is sticking one's head in the sand.

Re:"Money is an issue" (0)

gagol (583737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060293)

Money do NOT relate to actual resources anymore. There is much more money in so called virtual economy consisting of insurances and financial speculation than actual production of goods and services.

money shouldn't be an issue (3, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059189)

I'm not sure how things work in Boston, but in areas where gas is provided by a regulated public utility, there is little cost to the company for infrastructure improvements. They identify infrastructure that needs to be replaced/upgraded, go to the PUC with the list of improvements and petition for a rate increase to pay for them. Then, in theory, the company is supposed to make the improvements, but that doesn't always happen, PG&E in California has been known to ask for money for specific improvements, then spending the money on other things.

How can money not be an issue? (2)

xenoc_1 (140817) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059423)

Do the magic gas fairies provide the money? Because otherwise, it's an issue. Just where do you think the PUC or the Commonwealth of Mass. analog is going to get that money they give to the gas company? Have you noticed how broke and dysfunctional your state and its budget are?

Re:How can money not be an issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059701)

Can't you read? They take money from everyone they bill every month for contingencies like this. The trouble is they've been treating that income as a windfall revenue stream and pissing it away as profit.

Re:money shouldn't be an issue (1)

pla (258480) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059429)

They identify infrastructure that needs to be replaced/upgraded, go to the PUC with the list of improvements and petition for a rate increase to pay for them.

Natural gas occupies a somewhat unusual market position for a "utility", where it can actually compete purely on price against its competition. Currently, you see people changing over en masse because they can cut their winter heating bill in half. If that advantage were less dramatic (or even nonexistent), natural gas would all but vanish overnight ("Infrastructure upgrade fee? I call, a truck delivers it, end of story!").

Re:money shouldn't be an issue (2)

Xtifr (1323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060177)

I'm not sure how things work in Boston, but in areas where gas is provided by a regulated public utility, there is little cost to the company for infrastructure improvements.

Just because their mechanism for getting funds is unusual doesn't mean there's little cost.

In fact, it's worse than that. The company's income is held hostage by local government, and if that government is controlled by short-sighted fiscal conservatives who equate rate hikes with higher taxes, then people's lives can be put at danger. Those who believe in "no new taxes" no matter what put us all in danger!

PG&E in California has been known to ask for money for specific improvements, then spending the money on other things.

Which has recently led to things like an explosion [wikipedia.org] that destroyed nearly 40 houses in a suburban neighborhood, and killed eight people and injured many more. PG&E is probably going to be a little more cautious about such things in the near future.

Everything works on money (1)

RichMan (8097) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059215)

We are all motivated by rewards and penalties. Money is just the convertible currency for this.

Once the insurance industry gets hold of the map, money will see the fixes are made.

Re:Everything works on money (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060047)

We are all motivated by rewards and penalties. Money is just the convertible currency for this.

Once the insurance industry gets hold of the map, money will see the fixes are made.

Nonsense. These are parts per million leaks for the most part. Not necessarily dangerous. How many streets or buildings have mysteriously blown up over the past several decades?

What do you expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059285)

The infrastructure in Boston is a joke. Even the relative new Big Dig looks like it's falling apart.

Re:What do you expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059329)

That's because it is falling apart. [wikipedia.org]

Re:What do you expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059515)

I'm waiting for a night - JUST ONE NIGHT - where I can drive through the tunnel without lane closures.

Hmmm .... (4, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059289)

I'm thinking he can expect a visit from Homeland Security on this one -- now the terrorists know how to blow up Boston. :-P

well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059391)

at least then the problem is fixed....for good. There is the cheap quick way and the expensive long way

Re:Hmmm .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059559)

I'm thinking he can expect a visit from Homeland Security on this one -- now the terrorists know how to blow up Boston. :-P

Just a messenger. Oh, wait, those get killed as well. Fuck.

Re:Hmmm .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059567)

now the terrorists know how to blow up Boston

Naw, if they wanted to do that, they'd just follow the big blue signs helpfully labeled "Compressed Natural Gas Station". [msn.com]

Re:Hmmm .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42060043)

Please. Look up what they do with CNG tankers in Boston if you're interested in blowing the place up.

NOPE, JUST ME !! AND TACO BELL !! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059291)

I was in Boston just yesterday, at Taco Bell !!

What a crappy map. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059303)

What happened to the old useable 2D maps with colors to indicate intensities? That 3D map might look nice, but how are you supposed to read anything out of that except that someone has a cool 3D map generator?

How about not wasting gas into the air? (3, Insightful)

ZeroSerenity (923363) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059309)

What? Is that not enough of an incentive? If it goes into the air, you cannot sell it or make money off it.

Re:How about not wasting gas into the air? (2)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059379)

What? Is that not enough of an incentive? If it goes into the air, you cannot sell it or make money off it.

Nope, like most such things, the inventory loss is accounted for, and already passed onto the consumer buried in a line item.

I'd be very surprised to hear those companies are eating this cost. And, if they're just passing it on to the consumers, they don't really suffer any loss, and therefore don't care.

In the same way that I have to pay a security fee when I fly so some flunky can grab my junk, it isn't the companies losing money on this -- it's taxpayers and consumers.

Re:How about not wasting gas into the air? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059571)

The price of natural gass is currently VERY low, a quick check says $3/1000 cubic feet, or near it anyways. For methane you have to have about 5.1% methane to have a real risk of explosion. To blow up a large house, say 200x200x30ft you 200*200*30*0.051/1000*3 dollars of natural gas, or about $185. Thats a large leak, for something more realistic, like a 20x20x8 kitchen, you're talking $0.50 of gas, you'd be calling the fire department if you had a leak bad enough to do that to your house (and that would still do lots of damage if it went off, blowing up most of your house).

The leaks that are being detected here are probably MUCH smaller, maybe $0.05/day or so, it's still very detectable, and then you figure even a leak that leaked $2/day, it's still not really worth fixing, how much does sending a crew of 4 men to dig up the road and fix it, maybe 6 hours or work? If they weren't liable for the damage it caused then they might just let all the small stuff go, digging up a road to fix the leaking underground pipe is expensive, and what it's leaking is cheap. However they got limited funds, so they fix what they have to, the cost of blowing up someones house it probably the biggest reason to fix it, the loss of natural gas isn't really that bad for most of those guys, if it's not an explosion/fire risk then they might not bother with it.

Fixing Infrastructure is Stupid (0)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059315)

It's better to spend money on entitlements, pork projects, a non-existent green energy product market, and free health care for all...

At least, that's the takeaway from the last 5 or so years of dealing with our fucking retarded and senseless government.

Re:Fixing Infrastructure is Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059495)

U mad?

Financial Incentives (3, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059337)

You mean other than your property not exploding? I think your property not exploding qualifies as a financial incentive, doesn't it? Like if I told you "You need to fix this gas leak or your property will explode," I'm pretty sure you'll want to fix it.

Re:Financial Incentives (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059419)

The chances of your property in particular exploding though are pretty low, low enough that most people seem to put off getting these kinds of things inspected or fixed.

Re:Financial Incentives (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059733)

Except that the people who would own and or maintain the infrastructure aren't the ones whose property might blow up.

This is closer to me saying "you need to fix your gas leak or my property might explode". Unless I can get you to take on legal responsibility in case it happens, what is the incentive for you to fix the leak?

This isn't property owners who aren't fixing their own property -- this is infrastructure type stuff.

Are they sure they are leaking pipes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059351)

I mean, it is "Beantown" after all.

Don't blame the cows, blame the brahmins! (3, Funny)

mveloso (325617) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059477)

Who knew that global warming/climate change was caused by Boston? That fossil fuel argument was just a smokescreen for what really causes climate change: Boston Baked Beans!

It's cheaper to ignore it (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059489)

cost-to-fix vs. cost-to-take-a-chance. Chance always wins.

Re:It's cheaper to ignore it (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059677)

cost-to-fix vs. cost-to-take-a-chance. Chance always wins.

Yeah.. Then ship hits the fan.. Now engage "hide all the documents, emails, and other shit you can so it looks like we were going to fix it" mode.

I believe it.... (4, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059659)

Some of our infrastructure is OLD. A lot of it.

Recently, we were dealing with my grandmother on the first floor. She would call saying she smelled gas, so she would open the windows then call us upstairs, of course, we couldn't smell it.... after a few times we called. They came and said our pipes were old, put some wax sealant on and suggested we fix them soon.

I didn't doubt their diagnosis, the house has had gas longer than electricity....

Then a few days later she smelled it again... this time we ended up with a whole crew down,....not in our house... but going up and down the street. Apparently it wasn't our pipes...there was a leak under the road across the street!

Re:I believe it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059805)

Commonwealth Ave and Kelton Street by Harry's Bar and Grill in Brighton used to always smell strongly of gas. A little scary considering the B line trolly screeches and cranks by there every 15 minutes or so.

Re:I believe it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059965)

Also near Mission Hill / Brookline Ave turn off of Huntington in Brookline Village. For a while I actually saw a number of national grid workers there trying to isolate it or something, it still smells like gas there - must not have ever figured it out.

Re:I believe it.... (1)

mjpaci (33725) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060093)

Last winter I stepped out my front door and smelled gas and called NSTAR and they came out with a truck and detectors and the whole lot. They smelled it too, but the concentration wasn't high enough to call it an emergency, so they put me on a repair list. Two weeks later I come home to find the street in front of my house spray painted by DigSafe and a note on my door saying I need to be home the next day. They came, ran a liner in the pipe from the main to my house, connected it inside, and were gone. No more gas smell.

Then they came 2 months later to replace my meter (which they do every 7 years).

--Mike

Bean Town (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059693)

Of course there's a high Methane content in the air, is "Bean Town"!

Thousands what? (0, Flamebait)

parkinglot777 (2563877) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059697)

Highlighting the need for repairs, a new study detected more than 3,300 natural gas leaks throughout the city.

Is gas a countable noun? What is the number indicating? What is the unit? Number of gas pipe location? Number of gas volume? Or maybe number of people who pass gas throughout the city? I am not sure... It has all other units for their numbers but the leaking unit. Are they trying to get media attention or what?

Re:Thousands what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059829)

3300 leaks. You know, leak, countable noun. How did you find the button to post your comment, or did you have the nurse click the button?

Re:Thousands what? (1)

raymansean (1115689) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059853)

Leaks is the quantifiable noun.* While leak is normally a verb, leaks can be used as a noun just like runs. For example, I have a case of the runs. The verb in the quoted sentence is detected!

Re:Thousands what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059879)

I build a Leak Management System for a Utility Company (which operates in MA, but not Boston).

"What is a Leak?, is one of the more thorny questions that came up in building and supporting this system.

I constantly had to go over with management when working on reports (internal and regulatory filings) what was intended when they say "Leak"

In our system we had "Leak Ids" which actually represented a "Work Zone"
Then you have "Repair Jobs" the number of times you went out to fix something at in a "Work Zone"
Then you have "Point Leak/Repairs" the number of actually leaking things you fixed any time while you were on a "Repair Job".

Depending on what was intended for any given report, and what management feels like emphasizing (which may not be the same things) it could have been any one of these things...

For even more fun typically you often work in "Leaks per Mile" of a given type of material.

Re:Thousands what? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059891)

"leaks" you fucking moron
Learn to read for fuck's sake.
3,300 natural gas leaks

Re:Thousands what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42060507)

time to lay off the burritos.

diagram the sentence in your mind (1)

swschrad (312009) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060535)

leaks is the object. 3300, and gas are modifiers to the object. natural is a modifier to gas.

let's look at your work... THERE is a conjunctive, place as subject, check. ARE, passive tense of IS, verb, check. wait, what is HEY! SQUIRREL! doing in there?

Gas is in the air (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059749)

I find this quite interesting since I'm a runner and have logged thousands of miles around Boston. From time to time (i.e. last night) I'll run through an area that smells strongly of natural gas along the sidewalk or street. I just thought it was the sewer, but this makes more sense.

That being said, the infrastructure is crumbling in Boston from the Greenline T, to the sewers (all being relined) to the LongFellow Bridge which nearly collapsed a few years ago. So this is no surprise.

Where is the control? (1, Redundant)

avandesande (143899) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059775)

How much of the methane is due to a pile of rotting leaves? They should have driven around the country where no lines exist to establish a baseline.

Re:Where is the control? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060109)

What about cows? or any animal that farts and burps a lot.

In New Zealand, 47% of greenhouse emissions are from the agriculture sector, 35% of that is methane from cows and sheep. That's more than the transport (19%) and power (26%) sectors combined. (the left overs are 6% industry and 2% waste)

Thiophane (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059869)

I'm amazed there can be so many leaks detectable with a drive-by. Does Boston not add thiophane or something similar?

In SF I've called PG&E twice in the past several years. Once was at my apartment complex, and sure enough there was a leak, although the tech was surprised I was able to smell it. The second time--walking downtown--turned out to be a false-positive (probably was generator exhaust plus pool chemicals), but I figured better safe than sorry--within reason, of course.

Re:Thiophane (1)

BabaChazz (917957) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059949)

Here in BC a building exploded from a natural gas leak some ten+ years ago. The leak was not in the building but some distance away, and the gas traveled through the soil to reach the building. This was a well-used building, yet nobody noticed the mercaptan smell. Gas company experts concluded that in its passage through the soil, the marker compounds got stripped from the gas by the same process that makes gas chromatography work -- larger molecules are slowed by passage through what was effectively a packed column.

Not saying this is what's happening in Boston; I'm not there, I don't know. But it is possible. I suspect that something similar may have happened in that neighbourhood in Cali that blew up due to an undetected gas leak -- last year was it?

Sleep tight...

By thy Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42059919)

Don't we just love Fallout 5.....

hang on (3, Informative)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year and a half ago | (#42059957)

They have a pretty picture showing huge peaks of up to 28.6ppm methane.

Methane is only flammable in air between 50,000ppm and 150,000ppm

Here We Go Again (0)

hondo77 (324058) | about a year and a half ago | (#42060449)

'We just have to put the right financial incentives into place.'

Cue the leak deniers...

Suprising in a marshy and swampy region (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42060565)

No kidding, lots of methane in a region full of salt water marshes and fresh water swamps. What a surprise.

I worked for Boston Gas (an early predecessor to National Grid) one summer on a street crew. There are miles of 3lb pressure cast iron gas mains laid 50+ year ago. They get really pitted. Even worse are the steel high pressure pipes which just get our right dissolved by the salt water electrolysis. But it is a problem which can never be fully fixed.They now insert PVC piping down the old mains but there will still be leaks at the junctions. Besides there is naturally lots of methane around Boston, anytime you smell low tide you're really getting a big whiff of methane.

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