Natural gas is a gas that develops deep beneath the earth’s surface. Natural gas is used as fuel or to make materials and chemicals. Most of the time, natural gas is a safe source of energy. In the home, natural gas powers stove-tops, furnaces, and clothing dryers, among other appliances. Although cleaner than oil and coal generated power, natural gas poses a greater risk of explosion accidents. When accidents occur, a natural gas explosion is often catastrophic and deadly. The explosions can occur inside the pipes, within the home or any building but natural gas is not going anywhere; however, as it currently provides half of Massachusetts energy needs.
Natural Gas Explosions and Their Causes
A natural gas explosion is generally the result of negligence by an individual or company. A gas leak of some kind combined with an ignition spark is enough of a trigger to cause a natural gas explosion. Gas tanks, valves, and pipelines are supposed to be leak proof, so if a gas leak leads to an explosion, it is very likely that the cause was a negligent act or omission.
The negligent acts could have occurred in the design, manufacture, and installation or the negligent omissions could have occurred in the inspection, improper repair, or inconsistent maintenance. Other causes include:
- Defective control valves;
- Defective connectors;
- Faulty Piping;
- Damaged or faulty meters;
- Excavation or construction work near gas pipeline;
- Leaking hose or ranks;
- Improper installation; or
- Poor or negligent maintenance.
There Are 20,000 Natural Gas Leaks in Massachusetts!!!
A Massachusetts law passed in 2014 requires gas utility companies to report the location and age of all the gas leaks they know about. The law also created a system that classifies the severity of leaks and sets a time-line for their repair based on the severity of the risks. The gas leaks can be assigned grades from 1 to 3. A “1” is the worst type of leak.
Boston alone accounts for 9% of the gas leaks in Massachusetts. The following cities and towns had the most natural gas leaks in 2015 (ranked in order of most leaks to fewest):
- Boston Gas Leaks: 1,462
- Worcester Gas Leaks: 784
- Quincy Gas Leaks: 570
- Springfield Gas Leaks: 532
- Dorchester Gas Leaks: 530
- Newton Gas Leaks: 497
- Weymouth gas Leaks: 402
- Brookline Gas Leaks: 272
- New Bedford Gas Leaks: 260
- Medford Gas Leaks: 255
- Lynn Gas Leaks: 249
- Milton Gas Leaks: 245
- Lowell Gas Leaks: 216
- Wellesley Gas Leaks: 201
- Somerville Gas Leaks: 201
- Fairhaven Gas Leaks: 201
- Fall River Gas Leaks: 183
- Brockton Gas Leaks: 182
- Peabody Gas Leaks: 178
- Arlington Gas Leaks: 177
- Framingham Gas Leaks: 169
- Acton Gas Leaks: 158
- Cohasset Gas Leaks: 155
- Higham Gas Leaks: 141
- Marlborough Gas Leaks: 140
- Chelsmford Gas Leaks: 137
- Braintree Gas Leaks: 132
- Leominster Gas Leaks: 132
- Cambridge Gas Leaks: 128
- West Roxbury Gas Leaks: 119
- Roslindale Gas Leaks: 117
- Lawrence Gas Leaks: 115
- Norwood Gas Leaks: 112
- Lexington Gas Leaks: 112
- Haverhills Gas Leaks: 104
- Brighton Gas Leaks: 102
- Hyde Park Gas Leakss: 98
- Whitman Gas Leaks: 97
- Jamaica Plain: 95
- Dedham Gas Leaks: 78
- Dartmouth Gas Leaks: 76
- Stoughton Gas Leaks: 68
- Rockland Gas Leaks: 66
- Randolph Gas Leaks: 65
- Taunton Gas Leaks: 45
Natural Gas Utility Providers in Massachusetts
About 75% of the cities and towns in Massachusetts can receive natural gas services. There are only six companies that provide Massachusetts with natural gas, and they are:
- National Grid: this is one of the biggest energy providers in Massachusetts. National grid provides natural gas to Boston, Essex County, Middlesex County, Suffolk County, Cape Cod, parts of Norfolk County, parts of Plymouth County, parts of Worcester County
- Eversource: provides natural gas to Boston, Middlesex County and Worcester County. It also services parts of parts of Plymouth County, parts of Bristol County
- Columbia Gas: provides natural gas to Bristol County, Norfolk County, Plymouth County, and Worcester County and parts of Essex County
- Until: provides natural gas to parts of Worcester County and parts of Middlesex County
- Berkshire Gas: provides natural gas to Berkshire County and parts of Franklin County
- Liberty Utilities: provides natural gas to parts of Bristol County
For a map of the cities and towns these six companies provide natural gas to click here. (pdf)
Natural Gas Explosion Injuries
Injuries from gas explosions are painful, debilitating, disfiguring, and may take years to heal. The burns can cause permanent damage to skin and at any stage during the treatment process, a survivor can die due to burn-related illnesses like gangrene, deep vein thrombosis, or heart attack.
Suspect a Gas Leak?
If you suspect a gas leak in your home, vacate your home immediately. Call 9-1-1 and the utility company once outside your home and warn any close neighbors or family members to move away from your home. Other important things to keep in mind:
- Natural gas is odorless but when delivered into your home by the gas company or energy supplier it has a foul odor, like rotting fish and eggs, to help you smell the leak. If you smell a foul odor it may be a gas leak and you should call your utility company immediately and get out of your home.
- Do not turn off electrical appliances or try to locate the leak yourself. A false move can cause a spark that may trigger an explosion.
- Carbon monoxide is another odorless gas. Unlike natural gas there is no odor added to help you distinguish it and identify its presence in the home. Carbon monoxide builds up in the home’s furnace if the furnace is not burning properly or the area lacks proper ventilation. Symptoms feel like the flu without the accompanying fever.
Injured by a Natural Gas Explosion or Fire in Massachusetts?
Experienced Boston Area Personal Injury Attorneys – Initial Consultations Are Always Free – No Fee Unless We Recover For You
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a natural gas explosion, then call the natural gas explosion attorneys at The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan today. We have a proven track record with over 35 years of legal experience. Our natural gas explosion lawyers have successfully represented victims of explosion accidents for decades and we are ready to take on your case today.
No matter where you are located, we are just a phone call away. Call our law offices today to schedule a free no-obligation case review and consultation at (508) 588-0422 or click the link below to use our Free Case Evaluation Form.
Our personal injury lawyers assist accident victims throughout all of Southeast Massachusetts, including but not limited to Plymouth County including Brockton, Plymouth, Bridgewater, Marshfield, Hingham, Duxbury, Wareham, Abington, Rockland, Whitman, Hanson, Holbrook, Middleborough; Norfolk County including Quincy, Stoughton, Dedham, Weymouth, Braintree, Avon, Holbrook, Randolph, Canton, Sharon, Brookline, Franklin; Bristol County including New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, Attleboro, Mansfield, Easton, Raynham, Lakeville, Norton; Cape Cod, Hyannis, Falmouth, Barnstable, Worcester, Springfield, Holyoke, and the Greater Boston area including Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, Revere, Dorchester, Roxbury.