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HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 1941        FILED ON: 1/17/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 2933


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



Lori A. Ehrlich


To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
              Court assembled:

              The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act enhancing natural gas pipeline safety.






Lori A. Ehrlich

8th Essex

James M. Cantwell

4th Plymouth

Ann-Margaret Ferrante

5th Essex

Stephen L. DiNatale

3rd Worcester

Elizabeth A. Malia

11th Suffolk

John W. Scibak

2nd Hampshire

David Paul Linsky

5th Middlesex

Patricia A. Haddad

5th Bristol

Thomas M. McGee

Third Essex

Sean Garballey

23rd Middlesex

Colleen M. Garry

36th Middlesex

Jennifer E. Benson

37th Middlesex

Cory Atkins

14th Middlesex

Jason M. Lewis

Fifth Middlesex

Martin J. Walsh

13th Suffolk

Carolyn C. Dykema

8th Middlesex

Michael D. Brady

9th Plymouth

Ellen Story

3rd Hampshire

Ruth B. Balser

12th Middlesex

Katherine M. Clark

Fifth Middlesex

Edward F. Coppinger

10th Suffolk

Jonathan Hecht

29th Middlesex

James B. Eldridge

Middlesex and Worcester

Robert F. Fennell

10th Essex

Kay Khan

11th Middlesex

Louis L. Kafka

8th Norfolk

William N. Brownsberger

Second Suffolk and Middlesex

Frank I. Smizik

15th Norfolk

Martha M. Walz

8th Suffolk

James J. Dwyer

30th Middlesex

Peter V. Kocot

1st Hampshire

Carlo Basile

1st Suffolk

Bruce E. Tarr

First Essex and Middlesex

Denise Andrews

2nd Franklin

Stanley C. Rosenberg

Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester

Todd M. Smola

1st Hampden

Tom Sannicandro

7th Middlesex

Carlos Henriquez

5th Suffolk

Chris Walsh

6th Middlesex

Michael Barrett

Third Middlesex

Patricia D. Jehlen

Second Middlesex

Jay R. Kaufman

15th Middlesex

James M. Murphy

4th Norfolk

Gloria L. Fox

7th Suffolk

Donald Humason


Paul R. Heroux

2nd Bristol

Sheila C. Harrington

1st Middlesex

Thomas P. Conroy

13th Middlesex

HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 1941        FILED ON: 1/17/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 2933

By Ms. Ehrlich of Marblehead, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 2933) of Lori A. Ehrlich and others relative to natural gas pipeline safety.  Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. 


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



In the Year Two Thousand Thirteen



An Act enhancing natural gas pipeline safety.


              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

              SECTION 1. Chapter 164 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding the following section:-

              Section 144. (a) The department shall establish a uniform natural gas leak standard for all gas companies.

              (b) All current and future reported gas leaks shall be assessed a grade based on the following system:

              (1)              Grade 1. A leak that represents an existing or potential hazard to persons or property. A grade 1 leak requires repair and continuous action until the conditions are no longer hazardous. Completion of repairs shall be scheduled immediately and the condition kept under continuous surveillance until the hazard or source of the leak is eliminated. When a grade 1 leak is detected the gas company will make immediate communication with the police and fire departments in the municipality where the leak was detected.

              (2)              Grade 2. A leak that is recognized as non-hazardous to persons or property at the time of detection, but justifies scheduled repair based on probable future hazard. Such leaks shall be repaired or cleared within 6 months but no later than 12 months from the date the Grade 2 leak was classified. The frequency of reevaluation shall be determined by the location and magnitude of the leakage condition, provided that all Grade 2 leaks shall be reevaluated at least once every 3 months until eliminated.

              (3)              Grade 3. A leak that is recognized as immediately non-hazardous at the time of detection and can be reasonably expected to remain non-hazardous. Grade 3 leaks shall be reevaluated during the next scheduled survey, or within 12 months of the date last evaluated, whichever occurs first, until the grade 3 leak is eliminated or main replaced. A Grade 3 leak requiring immediate upgrade for scheduled repair shall apply to:

              (i) any Grade 3 leak which under frost conditions could migrate substantially;

              (ii) a high density of Grade 3 leaks in the street of a business or residential area;

              (iii) a nuisance Grade 3 leak requiring continued response by local firefighter resources; or

              (iv) recognized and continued damage to trees in close proximity to existing Grade 3 leaks.

              Grade classifications shall only be made by individuals who possess training, experience and knowledge gained through association with leakage work. The judgment of these individuals based upon information gained at the scene of the leak will form the basis for the classification.

              (c) Gas companies shall survey for the presence of gas leaks and set repair and or replacement schedules under the following circumstances, including but not limited to:

              (1)              when a qualified arborist determines that a tree is damaged due to a gas leak a gas company shall survey the area and repair or replace any detected leak;

              (2)              whenever the commonwealth or a municipality undertakes the repair of streets, roads or sidewalks where gas pipelines are under the project areas, a gas company shall survey the project area and repair or replace any known or newly detected leak.

              (3)              A gas company shall survey pipelines in every school zone once at least every 12 months or during the next scheduled survey, whichever is sooner. When any gas leak is detected in a school zone a gas company shall schedule a repair or replacement of the pipeline where the leak is present within 6 months but no later than 12 months from the date the leak was detected.

              (d) Each gas company shall report every three months to the department the location of each existing Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3 leak classified by the company, the date each Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3 leak was classified, and the date of repair performed on each Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3 leak as part of its service quality standards report required by section 1I of chapter 164. Such gas leak information shall be made available to any municipal or state public safety official and any member of the General Court upon request to the department.

              (e) Winter surveillance and patrol of cast iron gas pipelines in the commonwealth shall be required when any of the following criteria are present:

              (1)              there are significant variations in temperature oscillating above and below 32 degrees Fahrenheit;

              (2)              when the ambient temperature is forecasted to remain at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for 7 or more consecutive days and the system experiences 3 breaks or more per day over 2 successive days; or

              (3)              when the temperature falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit and field verified frost depth conditions of 24 inches or greater exist. The high speed cast iron survey will concentrate on 4 inch, 6 inch, and 8 inch cast iron mains and areas with historical cast iron breaks.

              (f) The department shall promulgate regulations necessary to implement this section, and shall continue to oversee and monitor gas company response and reporting.

              SECTION 2. Subsection (e) of section 144 of chapter 164 of the General Laws shall take effect on March 1, 2014.

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