This summer, the Squeaky Leak Project (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/squeaky-leak–2#home) will drive down every street in Cambridge and Somerville, MA with a high-precision methane analyzer and map all the natural gas leaks in these cities. By October, they intend to post the maps of the leaks so residents and the city governments can
…fix 10 of the worst leaks to save an expected $44,500 per year and the carbon emission equivalent of taking 500 passenger cars off the road for a year.
Map, label and publicize at least 10 trees being killed by the leaks. The clear visual proof of the damage, along with the estimated cost of the total damage to trees in both cities will help persuade both the residents and the municipalities this problem needs to be fixed.
Share the map of the leaks with Somerville and Cambridge so the cities can work effectively with the utilities.
Create a national website that allows local groups to find and fix the worst leaks in their communities.
They have a plan, the equipment and the expertise but could use a little more help with the money. They need to raise at least another $20,000 to fix all the Squeaky Leaks and begin the practice of Methane Management.
The groups and individuals behind the Squeaky Leak Project are HEET [Home Energy Efficiency Team] (http://www.heetma.org) which has been organizing weatherization parties and energy educating since 2008, Green Cambridge (http://www.greencambridge.org) which “works to create a more sustainable Cambridge, and to protect the environment for the health and safety of all” with assistance from Sierra Club (http://www.sierraclubmass.org/index.html) and Clean Water Action (http://www.cleanwateraction.org).
BU Professor Nathan Phillips, who has mapped natural gas leaks in Boston and Washington DC with the same equipment Cambridge and Somerville will use, and Bob Ackley, a natural gas expert with 30 years of experience, “have kindly donated $30,000 worth of expertise and equipment toward this project.”
The local gas utility is NSTAR and about 17% of their pipes are cast iron buried in the earth for over 60 years.
Natural gas is primarily methane, a greenhouse gas “34 times more destructive than CO2,” as well as a fuel. Methane is flammable and explosive.
When natural gas leaks into the soil it can kill trees by suffocating their roots. “Brookline estimates the damage to its city trees at over $1 million.”
Conservation Law Foundation figures the cost of natural gas leaks at $38 million per year in Massachusetts.
Fixing the average leak can recoup its cost through saved gas in under three years.
Leaks that are not considered potentially explosive never have to be repaired and so could be leaking wasted gas for decades.
And the utility doesn’t share it’s own leak maps with the cities.
State legislation is currently working its way through the process with Rep Lori Ehrlich leading the way: H.2933 An Act Enhancing Natural Gas Pipeline Safety
H.2934 An Act to Prevent Unnecessary Arboreal Costs Due to Natural Gas Leaks
More information on these proposed laws at http://loriehrlich.com/2013-2014-session-46.html
Methane Management: Crowdfunding Natural Gas Leak Monitoring
Methane Cell Phone Sniffers
Towards Zero Emissions: The Methane Cycle
Short Term Climate Forces: Black Carbon, Methane, and Tropospheric Ozone
Cambridge MA Solar Tool
Energy Upgrade Parties at the Sustainable Houses of Worship
The Return of Barnraising: Weatherization