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City Council to look at natural-gas safety in Boston - including the role of National Grid's lockout

The Boston City Council today approved a hearing to look at how prepared a city with one of the country's oldest natural-gas networks is to prevent a Merrimack-Valley disaster from happening here - and how to deal with one should it happen.

Councilors said they will have little choice but to look at whether National Grid's months-long lockout of workers is affecting public safety, by slowing down required repair and modernization work.

Councilor Ed Flynn (South Boston, South End, Chinatown, downtown) said he had a specific list of questions related to the lockout, including whether it has forced National Grid to slow down on "mandated programs" and whether it would affect inspections of 400 "pressure regulation stations" as well as valves and meters - and what the company's emergency-response plans have changed with the absence of the locked-out workers. He said he is also concerned whether the replacement workers are getting anywhere near the same level of training as the union workers - who, he said, "deserve better than what National Grid did to them."

Councilors Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury) and Ayanna Pressley (at large) said they don't want to create panic, but that the dozens of fires and thousands of evacuated residents - and at least one death - in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, mean they need reassurance that every possible measure is being taken to keep Boston residents and businesses safe.

"We cannot simply afford to wait any longer," O'Malley said. O'Malley, who has long sought to get National Grid to speed up the repair of leaks in its Boston system, said his hearing would provide a forum for elected officials, city emergency officials from BPD, BFD and EMS and the utility companies - which would include Eversource, which serves part of Hyde Park - a chance to come to agreement on necessary steps.

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Thank you, Boston City Council for looking at a potential diseaster before it happens.

National Grid customers can only fear the performance of a company that locks out long term employees and stops their health insurance in the middle of contract negotiations.

For foreign owned National Grid’s CEO Steve Pettigrew and his board https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/people.asp?privcapId=2... members, the well-being of their employees and safety of Boston does seem to be less of a priority than their compensation and company profits.

Mr. Pettigrew, in his job for two years, should testify as to his nefarious business practices and the slow repair of numerous gas leaks in Boston.

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...to rebuild, patch, replace, as much as possible, the basic infrastructure.
The MWRA and the BWSC did just that for the water/sanitation systems in the eighties. Seems like they did a good job, the toilets work, most of the sanitation system has been decoupled from the storm drain system and they checked for lead service pipes at the time. Money well spent.

The gas system is no different.

Face it, there's no substitute for natural gas in a dense population. Coal, oil, wood are much dirtier when burned in small residential systems. Nuke won't fit in the cellar. Everyone loves solar, but as far as one on your roof, it'll barely keep up with electricity usage, on a good day, under ideal conditions and not at night. Forget resistance heating with it, won't happen. Please don't say 'heat pumps'. Please.
So what's left? Gas. Fix the damn leaks, use state of the art pressure regulators, do redundant redundancy, maybe even $50 maxitrol valves all over the place. Gas isn't going anywhere, might as well make it safe.

Oh, just for the hell of it, if an appliance doesn't have a pilot light (like an electronic ignition stove) and it's not being used, an overpressure situation may not be a panic.

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Voting closed 5