Ready to Blow? Explosive Natural Gas Found Leaking From Thousands of D.C. Pipes

A potentially dangerous gas was found seeping from thousands of locations in the aging infrastructure in our nation’s capitol.

A review by Duke University and Boston University found nearly 5,900 natural gas leaks coming from the streets under Washington, D.C. About a dozen of these leaks were strong enough to have explosive potential, according the Duke news release about the research.

dc gas leaks
Each dot represents a gas leak researchers found. Most were not dangerous, but some had explosive potential. (Image source: Duke University)

What’s even more stunning is that the researchers informed city officials about these more dangerous methane leaks and followed up only to find that three were fixed.

“Finding the leaks a second time, four months after we first reported them, was really surprising,” Robert Jackson, Duke University environmental sciences professor and lead author of the study, said in a statement.

Though Jackson acknowledged that “pipeline safety has been improving over the last two decades,” he said, “now is the time to make it even better.”

Compared to analysis the team conducted in Boston, the report said the number of leaks in D.C. was similar.

“The average density of leaks we mapped in the two cities is comparable, but the average methane concentrations are higher in Washington,” Boston University professor Nathan Phillips said, according to the news release.

In addition to the danger factor, the research explained that fixing the leaks and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions would improve air quality and health, and in the long run would save money.

Watch this video about the study for more information on its findings:

The research was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Featured image via Shutterstock.

(H/T: Science Daily)