Professor Nathan Phillips Research Featured In The Globe

in 2012, Faculty, Nathan Phillips, News
November 20th, 2012

Boston riddled with mostly small natural gas leaks, Boston University study finds
By Beth Daley
Globe Staff /  November 19, 2012

Natural gas is escaping from more than 3,300 leaks in ­Boston’s underground pipelines, according to a new ­Boston University study that underscores the explosion risk and environmental damage from aging infrastructure ­under city sidewalks and streets

The vast majority of the leaks are tiny, ­although six locations had gas levels higher than the threshold at which explosions could ­occur. Although there have been no reports of explosions in ­Boston from any of the leaks, the study comes three years ­after a Gloucester house ­exploded probably because of a cracked and corroded gas main dating to 1911.

The research, being published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Pollution, confirms what Bostonians sometimes smell on city streets: a telltale whiff of gas.

“It is something that is distributed across all neighborhoods in Boston,’’ said Nathan Phillips, associate professor in BU’s Department of Earth and Environment and a lead author of the study. Phillips and an assistant drove a black hatchback over every one of Boston’s 785 miles of roads to test methane, the primary ingredient in natural gas, in the air. “And we know once we go outside of Boston, Newton is just as leaky. . . . Any old, mature city is going to have this problem.” Continue reading the entire globe article…

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