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City Council Office
 Policy Order Resolution
  O-5
  IN CITY COUNCIL
  June 9, 2014
COUNCILLOR MAZEN

WHEREAS:

Natural gas is sent to businesses and homes in Cambridge through an infrastructure of underground pipes; and

    
WHEREAS: In areas serviced by NSTAR (such as Cambridge), 17% of these natural gas pipes under the street are made of cast iron and are 60 to 120 years old (according to an NSTAR report on natural gas infrastructure); and 
    
WHEREAS: Cast iron buried in damp ground for decades will rust to become extremely brittle and corroded thus becoming much more likely to shatter during frost heaves or roadwork; and 
    
WHEREAS: Natural gas leaks are potentially explosive as was seen this spring in Dorchester (where 12 people were hurt) and Harlem (where 7 people were killed); and 
         
WHEREAS: Natural gas before it is burnt is a greenhouse gas 34 times more damaging then CO2; and 
    
WHEREAS: The amount of gas leaked per year in Cambridge is estimated to be equivalent in terms of greenhouse gasses to the annual average emissions of over 10,000 passenger cars (or 28% of all the cars registered in Cambridge); and 
    
WHEREAS:

The City of Cambridge has climate change reduction goals it wishes to meet; and 

    
WHEREAS: The cost of the gas leaked is passed onto residents (estimated cost to Cambridge rate payers is $350,000 per year based on leakage detected in Boston); and 
    
WHEREAS: NSTAR maps gas leaks regularly, but does not share this information with the public or the city; and 
 
WHEREAS:

Natural gas leaks in the ground suffocate tree roots causing damage to city trees (the city of Brookline is suing the National Grid for $1 million for damage to that city's trees); and 

    
WHEREAS: The City of Cambridge has a 10-year old regulation (the SPOF Program) to incentivize NSTAR to repair all pipes under the street in phase with street repair; and 
    
WHEREAS: HEET, a local nonprofit, is mapping the current natural gas leaks this summer in Cambridge using a high precision natural gas analyzer to create an online map of the leaks; now therefore be it 
    
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the IT department to publicize HEET's map of natural gas leaks by making it available via the city website, and other city communications; and be it further  
    
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to work with the Department of Public Works to notify NSTAR of the worst leaks detected by HEET and schedule repairs of those leaks as soon as possible; and be it further  
    

ORDERED:

That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to work with the Department of Public Works to notify NSTAR of the worst leaks detected by HEET and schedule repairs of those leaks as soon as possible, in order to promote the effectiveness of its SPOF program as a model for other communities in the Commonwealth and the world; and be it further  
     

ORDERED:

That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the City Council on this matter.
    

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