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Boston councilors want assurances our gas systems won't blow up houses

City Councilors Matt O'Malley, Ed Flynn and Ayanna Pressley will seek permission from their fellow councilors on Wednesday for a hearing to consider the safety of Boston's natural-gas networks - and whether steps can be taken to make it even safer.

O'Malley - who has long been critical of National Grid for its pace in fixing leaks in the system - and Flynn say last week's disaster in the Lawrence area make such a hearing vitally important.

The City of Boston can explore the prevalence of natural gas safety features such as automatic shutoff valves, communications strategies to inform residents through multiple sources about disaster preparedness, and optimized coordination with utilities

National Grid serves most of Boston; Eversource serves part of Hyde Park.

The city's regular Wednesday meeting begins at noon in its fifth-floor chambers in City Hall.

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Comments

Having the members of United Steelworkers 12003 &12012 who are currently locked out doing the gas work in the city of Boston instead of the “robust replacement scabs” would certainly increase public safety. The contractors (Feeney bros SCAB Inc.) who are being investigated for the explosions and fires in the Merrimack Valley are working with live gas on your streets right now wake up people!

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Working Americans SCABs is real classy.

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And to be clear, the union people want to do the work but are being prevented to by management. They're scabs.

While I do think that National Grid should do the right thing and let the workers work, the issue the councilors want to discuss is more long term.

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value of supporting people locked out of their jobs by a corporate giant, then that same person will be willing to overlook my family's safety by supporting the unqualified workers currently installing and maintaining natural gas infrastructure.

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Filled the vacancies your family would be in a danger, not the other way around.

They got locked out BECAUSE THEY VOTED to walk out. All because they want, wait for it...... NEW employees to receive a 401(k) plan in lieu of a pension like 99.9999999% of Americans.

Sick of unions always playing the victim, their leadership advised that is was in their best interest to vote to authorize a strike as leverage and it backfired.

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last Thursday. The screw you, I have mine, republican attitude is why the next generation of Americans will be the first to have less than their parents. Keep spewing misinformation if it makes you feel good.

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They didn't walk out of anything. They were willing to work under the old contract. It isn't a strike. National Grid isn't allow them to work.

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I said VOTED, key word was VOTED!

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The National Grid workers want to work. They are willing to work. It is management to "voted" to lock them out and bring in the scabs to do the work the workers want to do.

I'm sick of large corporations trying to destroy the middle class through things like trying to take back properly negotiated benefits, particularly when those corporations are going well financially.

Leadership of the union never authorized a strike. The workers are not on strike. Perhaps you might want to research issues before commenting on them.

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The workers voted to authorize a strike three days before the contract expired. If National Grid allowed the workers to continue working without a valid contract, the Union could have initiated a strike at 2:30 on a Friday afternoon while in the middle of gas work across the state, leaving their job sites vulnerable, roads closed, and leaks un-repaired.

The union forced National Grid's hand by playing hardball by authorizing a strike.

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Sure, except...

1. Enough union people take pride in their work that they wouldn't leave off half-done, unsafe, etc...

2. Enough union people aren't stupid enough to create a PR disaster by leaving off half-done, unsafe, etc...

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And you are wrong.

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Oil heat and clean coal are terrific and no risk of the disasters we saw in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover. God bless our oil men and coal miners.

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Yeah, there's never been large scale disasters with oil and coal, eh?

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There is no such thing. Stop telling that lie.

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flooding of coal ash pits and the subsequent long term contamination of groundwater. They'll ask for governmental help. They'll then vote republican and decry government handouts to people that aren't them.

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I think it all depends on money for infrastructure replacement. Everyone's seen this gem, but it bears repeating:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/MVh85ui.jpg)

The old system is old. A long term plan to replace every old pipe in the city, I would assume, is already in place. If not, then we'll have the leaks we have now, with the losses of gas passed onto the rate-payers.

Every yellow/green line in this pic is a gas leak outside a building. Gas can follow outside a pipe into a building. I'm not sure the City Council has the technical ability to second-guess the gas companies when it comes to distribution, pressure relief and overpressure engineering, but maybe a few minutes talking to an IS gas inspector can offer some insight. Maybe they can also look at how to keep the people informed.

This is not an ideal situation.

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We can't replace every pipe. I mean, we "could" in that it's physically possible.

The problem is that we simply can't be using gas to heat homes. It's not a near-term safety issue [generally], it's a long term safety issue.

We can not comply with 80% GHG reduction by 2050 if we use gas in homes. It's simply not possible.

So why are we spending so much money to replace gas infrastructure with other gas infrastructure? Why aren't we spending that money reducing the amount of gas we use to heat, bringing that number down to zero.

And no, it's not cleanfilthy coal or oil -- we need to use air source heat pumps (in conjunction with better insulation and air sealing) for residential and smaller commercial. The only way to eliminate a leak is to have no gas, and there's no need to replace the gas line down your neighborhood street if nobody in the neighborhood is on gas.

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Air source heat pumps don't work well in this climate. Once the temperature outside goes down too low, they freeze up and stop functioning. Then you'd have to switch to some other type of heat until things warmed up. If you can use ground source heat pumps, then that would be viable. Electricity usage would still increase substantially vs gas or oil, so we'd have to make up the difference with renewable sources that function well in winter (perhaps not solar, as it's dark here so much in the winter). But it's a workable plan.

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Too expensive. We are going to live with things like this occasionally.
Signed,
A Grownup
Ps we’re not going to comply with some commitment 30 years from now either

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They will need to get a hell of a lot more efficient and will still need backups.

I looked into them recently - we just are not there yet in this climate. My parents heated and cooled their home in Portland, Oregon with one for years, but that ain't here. They still kept the gas furnace for backup and had to use it now and then.

Our neighbors put in one, but they still have the gas furnace for backup. They needed it last January. Less gas use, sure, but still not a complete solution.

20 more years of warming and who knows? Unless the gulf stream keeps slowing down, we might be able to work it in this climate.

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My daily walk used to take me past a spot near an intersection. Every time, I would smell that smell, even on breezy days. I called the leak-reporting phone number and described the situation.

Many months passed.

One day there was no smell. I assume they fixed the leak.

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Sure they fixed the leak. But when one leak is repaired, the pressure problem in the line remains, and the old pipes themselves aren't replaced. The pressure eventually causes another rupture elsewhere on the line and there's a new gas leak, often not far away. It happens all the the time; leaks are everywhere.

Here's an example: some of the trees on the Comm Ave Mall have died from gas leaks, which poisoned their root systems. You'll notice several young replacement trees, usually on the corners of blocks,'s a popular spot for gas leaks because of joints, I guess. I've been watering a new tree this summer and I smell gas at that corner every time I'm there. I report the leak, knowing there's a chance they'll fix it. But they probably fixed a different leak there after the previous tree died. (Trees are expensive to replace, so it's foolish to replant where there's a known leak.) My 311 case for that leak is still open. And if they fix it, that tree might survive, but the repair will likely cause a new leak nearby, perhaps affecting some other tree.

I don't see how we're going to eradicate this problem. The reports I've heard about how much gas is leaking into our environment are scary and stunning. We're all paying for it in higher gas prices, dead trees, possible health effects, etc., and let's keep our fingers crossed that there are no more explosions. The group Mothers Out Front is working hard to raise awareness and find solutions, but this is huge.

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Sure they fixed the leak. But when one leak is repaired, the pressure problem in the line remains, and the old pipes themselves aren't replaced. The pressure eventually causes another rupture elsewhere on the line and there's a new gas leak, often not far away. It happens all the the time; leaks are everywhere.

What do you mean by "pressure problem?" The system is designed to run at a constant pressure, so fixing a leak isn't going to cause the pressure to rise. The gas company will simply pump a little less gas into the network in order to maintain that same constant pressure. There are surely new leaks springing up regularly, but it's not repairs causing them, just old infrastructure.

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Just remember to close the barn door after the bandwagon has left the building.

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Isn't this more like seeing your neighbors horses run out, so you go check your own barn door to make sure it's properly shut?

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We live along Washington st right by Forest Hillls. Every so often when you step outside it smells like gas. One day I called the leak line and someone came out. He mentioned that all along Washington (and many of the other roads) there were small leaks. But the leaks were far enough from buildings and not seeping in, so they went on a “to do list”. One would think a leaky line right near all the Arborway and Forest Hills construction would be a priority....

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Commissioners of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities aren't available. No Public Meetings actually with DPU Commissioners themselves! https://www.mass.gov/guides/the-dpu-commission

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They seem to have a lot of public meetings.

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And what was their reply?

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