Chapter 164 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following section:-
Section 144. (a) There shall be established a natural gas leak classification standard to determine the degree or extent of the potential hazard resulting from gas leakage to persons, property or the environment due to leaking methane as a greenhouse gas and to prescribe remedial actions.
(b) All reported gas leaks will be assessed a grade based on the following system:-
(1) Grade 1. Any leak recognized as an existing or probable hazard to persons or property, and requires immediate repair of continuous action until the conditions are no longer hazardous. Daily monitoring or surveillance shall not qualify as a “repair”, so called.
(2) Grade 2A. Any leak recognized as non-hazardous to persons or property, but justifies schedule repair based on probable future hazard to persons or property. Repair is required within 6 months with monitoring every 2 weeks until repaired.
(3) Grade 2. Any leak recognized as non-hazardous to persons or property, any Grade 3 leak that could migrate under frost or other conditions in the judgment of the operating personnel at the site of the leak. Repair is required within 1 year with monitoring every 6 months.
(4) Grade 3. Any leak recognized as non-hazardous at the time of detection or monitoring and may be expected to remain non-hazardous. Repair shall be required within 36 months. The leak shall be re-surveyed during “mid-frost season”, so-called. The leak shall be re-evaluated during the next required leak survey or annually, whichever is less, and shall include a tree damage survey of any tree on public or private property within a 40 feet circumference of the leak.
(c) Operators shall repair grade 1 leaks identified prior to December 31, 2010 on or before March 1, 2012. Operators shall repair grade 2 leaks identified prior to December 31, 2010 on or before March 1, 2015. For all leaks identified after December 31, 2010, operators shall comply with the requirements of this section.
(d) It shall be the duty of each operator to promptly respond to any notification of a gas leak or gas odor or any notification of damage to facilities by excavators or other outside sources to protect persons, property, and limit the amount of greenhouse gas expelled to the atmosphere.
(e) Any suspected damage to trees due to any gas leak from a utility owned pipeline, should be reported to the company responsible for inspection by a qualified arborist. Repairs, damages and replacement will be subject to the department’s rules and regulations.
(f) All buildings or structures within a determined underground gas leak migration area shall be checked for traces of natural gas. If a positive reading is detected, company personnel shall take appropriate action to protect persons and property, as well as grading the gas leak according to this section.
(g) The department shall promulgate rules and regulations necessary to carry out the provisions of this section. The rules and regulations shall require that companies subject to the commissioner’s supervision who are responsible for the maintenance and repair of natural gas lines shall report annually to the commissioner the grades of any leaks detected as part of any mandated compliance surveys.
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