Street Trees in Georgetown will be Surveyed this Week for Damage from Leaking Natural Gas Pipelines

Natural gas safety expert Robert Ackley of Gas Safety Inc. will be in Washington, DC Aug. 8-10 to update his research on the impact of leaking natural gas pipelines on thousands of street trees in Georgetown.
Ackley will use sensitive instruments that can detect as little as 10 parts per million of natural gas or propane and tag the readings with GPS coordinates that will be plotted using Google Earth.
Reporters are invited to follow Ackley as he conducts his research on the streets of Georgetown or to schedule interviews with him afterwards. He will check on the leaks he had previously identified in a 2011 study and examine additional streets for ongoing damage. He will share the results of his research with community leaders and public officials.
“While it is important to periodically assess the impact of natural gas leaks on trees, it is urgent that we identify and stop those leaks in order to prevent further damage,” Ackley said.
In 2014 Ackley helped conduct a study sponsored by Stanford and Duke Universities that found there were almost 6,000 gas leaks in the nation’s capital. He estimates that gas leaks are responsible for $15-$20 million in damage to trees in the District of Columbia.
There are an estimated 145,000 street trees in Washington, according to the DC Urban Forestry Administration and approximately 1,500 miles of streets in the District.
Ackley owns the Massachusetts-based consulting firm Gas Safety Inc., which has tested for gas leaks across the country. He has called bare metal pipelines “a ticking time bomb. The steel is going to corrode. It’s only a matter of time before it rusts out.”
“It is important for the residents of Georgetown to know how and to the extent natural gas leaks are affecting their lives, property, and environment,” Ackley said. “My visit will be an important opportunity to update my research, and to share what I learn with residents, community leaders, and public officials, he said.
Natural gas leaks can be both an explosion and environmental hazard that contributes to global warming. Leaks from distribution piping systems are causing millions of dollars of damage to trees, shrubs, and lawns, according to Ackley.

My goal is to protect trees and property owners from harmful natural gas leaks,” Ackley said.
About the Equipment Ackley Will Use
Ackley will use sensitive instruments that can detect as little as 10 parts per million (ppm) of natural gas or propane. The cavity ringdown spectrometer (CRDS) equipment detects and documents methane in parts per billion (ppb) and tags each reading with global positioning (GPS) coordinates that can be plotted in Google Earth. His industry standard flame ionization unit (FIU) detects methane at 1ppm and the Bascom-Turner combustible gas indicator(CGI) is sensitive to 500 ppm.

About Ackley

Ackley has 35 years of experience with natural gas pipelines. He has provided training and compliance safety services to natural gas operators to identify and classify natural gas leakage, transmission line patrolling, and atmospheric corrosion inspections. Ackley continues to collaborate with research teams from Boston University and Stanford University on quantifying emissions from various sources.
Ackley has conducted gas pipeline safety research in Washington DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, and North Carolina.

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A Non-Responsive Response from Washington Gas Light Co.

Several weeks ago I filed a complaint against the Washington Gas Light Company via the Office of Peoples Counsel in Washington, DC.   The complaint was specific in terms of my issues, concerns, and the reforms and improvements I was calling on the gas company to implement.  Last week OPC received a response from WGL which listed a series of their policy statements but failed to address the issues I listed and described in the complaint.  It was a non-responsive response to an important local public safety  issue.

Yesterday I filed a complaint against WGL with the Public Service Commission, which has jurisdiction over the gas company.  According to the staff of PSC, the gas company has 14 days to respond to my complaint.

Gas Company Continues Dismal Record of Lack of Transparency, Accountability, and Communication with Our Community about Gas Leaks and Repairs

Washington Gas Co. continuues its dismal record of failing to communicate with and be transparent and accountabile with our community about gas leaks and repairs beneath and above our streets.

The latest example:  work last week by the gas company on 28th Street, NW near Dumbarton Avenue.  Some the workers were apparently wearing protective gear including oxygen masks.  A fire extinguisher was at the ready on the sidewalk.

As in the past, there was no advance notice from the gas company to the community about what their crews were working on, any potential dangers to residents, follow-up about the nature or success of their repairs, next steps, etc.

How long will the commmunity continue to put up with the continued lack  of communication, accountability, and transparency by the Washington Gas Light Company?

USA TODAY investigates: Danger lurks underground from aging gas pipes

USA TODAY: About every other day over the past decade, a gas leak in the United States has destroyed property, hurt someone or killed someone, a USA TODAY Network investigation finds. The most destructive blasts have killed at least 135 people, injured 600 and caused $2 billion in damages since 2004.

The death toll includes:

• The explosion that leveled part of a New York City block in East Harlem in March, killing eight and injuring 48 more.

• A blast that flattened the concrete floors of an apartment building in Birmingham, Ala., killing one woman in December.

• A flash fireball in 2012 that left an Austin man dead, a scarred foundation where his house once stood and debris strewn across yards of his neighbors.

Read the entire article at: USA TODAY.