Read the original article by Peter Goonan here.
SPRINGFIELD — City councilors, during a meeting Wednesday with representatives of Columbia Gas, said they are pleased with reports that the company has accelerated repairs of gas leaks in Springfield.
Prodded by community activists, the company pledged in January 2017 to expand its repair program to address hundreds of natural gas leaks in the region. While the company immediately repairs the most serious leaks, known as Grade 1, it accelerated its program to repair the less serious Grade 2 and 3 leaks.
There are 162 known Grade 2 leaks in Springfield that will be repaired by Dec. 1, said David Nelson, operations station manager for Columbia Gas. There 233 Grade 3 leaks, which are defined as not posing a risk to life and property, with the utility company currently planning to repair the two that are deemed the “highest emitters,” Nelson said.
Spokeswoman Sheila Doiron said a gas control monitor showed a reading slightly above what should be the maximum pressure for the line. The high reading, detected around 1 p.m., only lasted for about six minutes, she said.
City Councilor Jesse Lederman, chairman of the council’s Sustainability and Environment Committee, said he recalls there being 590 gas leaks in all categories in 2017.
“It sounds like there is really great progress,” said Lederman, who was one of the community activists lobbying for the accelerated gas repair program.
Councilor Adam Gomez also praised the efforts to go after the gas leaks. Councilor Melvin Edwards also took part in the meeting.
Columbia Gas said it works the city’s Department of Public Works in trying to coordinate the installation of new gas lines to coincide with road paving projects so roads aren’t torn up twice.
The meter station is proposed at a site on Longmeadow Country Club property, in a densely populated residential neighborhood near Wolf Swamp Road Middle School.
The meeting at City Hall also included questions about the company’s proposal to build a new meter transfer station near the Longmeadow Country Club, about which many residents have raised health, safety and environmental concerns.
Lederman said the project is close to areas of Springfield, and there is also a long-term project being proposed for a major gas transmission line that would cross through Springfield.
The plan for the enhanced gas line system was launched in 2014, and is slated for design and construction over a 20-year period, officials said.
Columbia Gas officials said natural gas received by Springfield customers now comes from gas lines leading separately from East Longmeadow and Agawam, and the proposed new line would provide for long-term needs to improve aging pipe infrastructure and prepare for any emergency should another pipeline fail, officials said.
Lederman said Wednesday's meeting was a good initial discussion of the long-term plans, but he believes there are still "outstanding concerns from constituents" that can be addressed in future meetings.
Columbia Gas officials said they are prepared to meet and discuss questions and concerns.