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Thousands of Gas Leaks Discovered Under Streets of Washington DC 292

First time accepted submitter gallifreyan99 writes "Researchers from Duke revealed today that they had discovered nearly 5,900 gas leaks under the streets of Washington DC, including 12 that posed a serious risk of explosion. And it's not just Washington: a gas industry whistleblower who is part of the team showed this was happening in cities all over America."
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Thousands of Gas Leaks Discovered Under Streets of Washington DC

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  • What a noobs (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @09:18AM (#45984851)

    This is known tech, used extensively in many countries, yet they still can't manage to maintain a decent system quality.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @10:03AM (#45985263)

    There isn't anything ere to be worried about folks.

    There are thousands and thousands of miles of 60 plus year old cast iron and steel pipe. These pipes expand and contract over time and wiggle themselves loose. Typically these leaks are very small and are no danger to the public, which is why they are allowed to persist. Every natural gas utility in the United States is required to have a leak management program which is monitored by the state they reside in and the Department of Transportation. Most natural gas utilities have capital infrastructure projects in place to replace these old pipes with new plastic pipe, which is more flexible and creates a very strong joint. The creation of these programs is directly related to the regulatory agencies mandating a reduction in leaks each year.

    If you do ever smell natural gas (which actually doesn't smell, mercaptain is added for the fart smell) please call your utility and report it.

    I am an engineer at a natural gas utility and it is my job manage the installation of plastic pipe and deal with these leaks.

  • by wired_parrot ( 768394 ) on Friday January 17, 2014 @11:04AM (#45985915)
    It's not about the danger of gas explosions ; larger gas leaks that pose safety concerns are usually addressed if they are detected. It's about the thousands of small leaks, that the gas industry often ignores as being too small to pose any risk. In this the second link is very informative: not only are these small leaks killing trees and vegetation in the vicinity of where they occur, but collectively they are leaking a large amount of methane into the atmosphere that contributes to global warming. And given that methane is 20 times more potent as a greenhouse gas, it means if the estimates of the leaks were to be correct, natural gas would actually be worse for global warming than coal. This would have powerful implications for US energy policy, given that natural gas is being sold as a cleaner burning fossil fuel, when the leaks completely undermine it's "clean" premise.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.