National Grid responded to reports of a gas leak on the Fulton Street side of Kennedy Plaza, near Dorrance Street, yesterday morning shortly after 10am. The Providence Police and Fire Departments reported the presence of natural gas in a telephone manhole. According to National Grid spokesman David Graves, “One of our Field Trainers was working in the area at the time and reported to the scene.” The field trainer confirmed the presence of gas and a crew leader was dispatched to the scene by about 10:30am.
“At 10:40am it was determined that all manholes in the area were clear of gas and the Fire Department left the scene,” said Graves, “Also at this time a reading of 2 percent gas in the atmosphere was found at a nearby location.”
Graves noted that there must be at least 5 percent natural gas present to ignite.
“It was determined that the leak was caused by a hairline crack in a joint between two lengths of gas main and had traveled into the telephone manhole. Dig Safe was notified to mark off all underground utilities in the area. At 3pm the markings were completed and repairs to the pipe begun.”
Repairs were completed shortly after. There were no injuries. The leak location will be checked daily to make sure there are no other leaks in the area.
Channel 12’s Susan Campbell reported that National Grid deals with well over 2,000 gas leaks a year. “In 2015 913 of the documented gas leaks were classified as ‘type 1’ leaks, which required immediate repairs,” wrote Campbell.
Providence has one of the oldest gas systems in the world. Boston is slightly older, and is beginning to address the problems of aging gas delivery infrastructure. Kathy Curran and Kevin Rothstein, writing for Channel 5 in Boston, found that there were 75,446 gas leaks reported in Massachusetts in 2015.
Ratepayers compensate companies for undelivered, leaked gas. Curran and Rothstein write that, “According to a report prepared for US Senator Edward Markey, ratepayers nationally paid at least $20 billion for leaking gas during an 11-year period.”