(This blog post was updated 19th January 2017 with a correction to the interpretation of the leak data. The correction was offered by Professor Phillips. The blog author is responsible for the original misunderstanding. Apologies for any inconvenience.)
The West Roxbury Lateral (“WRL”) has long been the subject of protest, opposition, and conflict regarding the roles of fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, in providing electrical energy and heat to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Well, Professor Nathan Phillips of Boston University who has had a major role mapping natural gas leaks in pipes in Boston has recently imaged a portion of the newly built WRL, this part at its entry into the Town of Dedham. He has produced the following image, and released it on Twitter:
Note the figure does not show the amounts quantitatively, but clearly as the pipeline goes on to the east, the baseline leakage tracing its path is “normal.” The leaky section clearly is not.
Professor Phillips submitted the following comment regarding this data:
I just have one clarification, which is that we aren’t making the claim that the WRL pipeline itself is leaking, but that there are leaks along its route, likely from the existing low pressure distribution system. But we don’t know for sure. The issue is that there is new pavement and sidewalks overlying old leaking pipes – a huge wasted opportunity and already, a new roadway is punctured by patches.
And he offered this record of the data gathering:
This is the route of a brand new transmission pipeline, which only went into service a month ago or less. As Professor Phillips says this was a “missed opportunity“ because, while the trench was open, the companies should have taken the opportunity to repair existing pipelines.