An Earth Shattering Kaboom - natural gas leaks

Sounds like people didn't bother to maintain their infrastructure - a two-fer: First - from USA Today:

Study finds 5,893 natural gas leaks in Washington, D.C.
New research today says the nation's capital, notorious for leaking state secrets, has thousands of leaks of another sort: methane from natural gas pipelines.

More than 5,800 leaks from aging pipelines were found under Washington, D.C.'s streets by scientists from Duke University and Boston University, who dispatched a car equipped with measuring instruments across the city last January and February. Their findings appear in this week's peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology.

A bit more:

In February, they reported the leaks to Washington Gas, the local utility, but upon follow-up testing four months later, found nine of them were still emitting dangerous levels of methane.

"If you dropped a cigarette down a manhole ... it could have blown up," says Robert Jackson, professor of environmental sciences at Duke who led the study. "I was shocked," he says, adding gas companies usually respond quickly to leaks for fear of negative publicity.

Well, good that it's just D.C. -- Oh... Wait Second - from Medium:

The environmental scandal that's happening right beneath your feet
By the time Bob Ackley crossed the Harlem River into Manhattan he'd been up for nearly four hours. It was still dark, not yet seven on a Sunday morning: the best time of the week to go sniffing for gas.

The back seat of his hatchback was littered with hi-tech equipment. Plastic hoses and cables connected a web of instruments: a laser spectrometer, a computer, GPS equipment, a pump, and a fan. The jumble of gadgets purred reassuringly as he drove.

Few people understand the streets of America's cities the way Ackley does. He's spent almost three decades documenting leaky gas pipelines and alerting utility companies to potential danger. Now he can read the street like a hunter reads animal tracks; some academics call him the "urban naturalist".

As he drove through New York, Ackley looked for the signs that could point to possible gas leaks. Wearing a tattered winter jacket and peering out from beneath a baseball cap that proclaimed "Life is Simple, Eat, Sleep, Fish", he searched for spray-painted signs that mark underground pipes and wires.

He watched the weather, knowing storms bring low-pressure systems that draw gas up from underground. Small holes drilled into the pavement; long narrow patches of asphalt; dead grass on the side of a street: these are all good indicators of past  -  and perhaps ongoing  -  leaks.

This is a long and wonderful read. Written by Phil McKenna, it was awarded the 2013 AAAS Kavli award for science journalism. Phil spends too much time drinking the anthropogenic global warming kool-aid but otherwise, an excellent article.

Earth Shattering Kaboom? Marvin the Martian

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on January 17, 2014 9:54 AM.

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