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Could a Natural Gas Explosion Happen in St. Louis?

Brad Choat
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NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: Firefighters from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) respond to a five-alarm fire and building collapse at 1646 Park Ave in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan March 12, 2014 in New York City. Reports of an explosion were heard before the collapse of two multiple-dwelling buildings at East 116th St. and Park Avenue that left at least 17 injured and a number of people are missing. (Photo by Rob Bennett/Office of Mayor of New York/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 12: Firefighters from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) respond to a five-alarm fire and building collapse at 1646 Park Ave in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan March 12, 2014 in New York City. Reports of an explosion were heard before the collapse of two multiple-dwelling buildings at East 116th St. and Park Avenue that left at least 17 injured and a number of people are missing. (Photo by Rob Bennett/Office of Mayor of New York/Getty Images)

brad-choat Brad Choat
Reporter/editor Brad Choat joined the KMOX news team in the summer of...
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – In light of recent deadly explosions in New York and New Jersey, we wondered what kind of natural gas pipe leakage is going on here in St. Louis.

Adam Foreman with the New York City based think-tank “Center For an Urban Future” is looking at gas mains in big cities across the country, and the potential for leaks. He compared the rate of leakage in St. Louis and New York City.

“You really saw leakage in St. Louis at the services,” he says. “So it’s not the gas mains that are going through the roads, but those services that are connecting to individual homes. You are seeing a leakage rate that is higher than National Grid but lower than Con Edison, the two providers in New York City.”

Foreman says that’s interesting, because St. Louis has a more modern gas pipe system than New York City’s, which is mainly cast iron and unprotected steel.

He also says that St. Louis has newer gas pipes than New York City, but a similar “unaccounted for” rate at 2.2 percent.

“What is surprising, given how new the system is, is that there is a very high unaccounted for rate for the gas,” he says. “That’s what comes through distribution and what actually arrives to the customer.”

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey says in the years 2000 through 2011, utilities across the country lost track of some 2.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in their pipes.

Markey’s report says there are 91,000 miles of leaky pipes across 46 states.

Over a 10-year period, those gas lines were blamed for 116 deaths, more than 450 injuries, and $800 million in property damage.

Markey says President Obama is waging a campaign to get utility companies across the country to go to plastic natural gas pipes instead.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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