Sustainable Wellesley members gathered in front of the Wellesley Community Center holding signs, and wearing safety vests and tape measures of the sort used by utility crews to draw attention to National Grid’s lack of action on gas leaks. The community center is located near a major leak that has been known to the gas company since 2015.

Last week, Sustainable Wellesley called on National Grid to fix the dozens of persistent gas leaks in Wellesley. The leaks emit vast amounts of methane, which is a dangerous and highly potent greenhouse gas that is contributing to global warming.

Sustainable Wellesley President Quentin Prideaux said, “We first started looking at gas leaks in Wellesley in 2015 when there were 197 leaks reported by National Grid — now there are 261. The leaks are actually getting worse and we need National Grid to step up to protect our climate, our safety, and our health.”

The Sustainable Wellesley action was part of a larger effort across the Boston metropolitan area led by Mothers Out Front, the Gas Leaks Allies, and other environmental groups frustrated by the lack of progress on gas leaks. In Boston, more than 100 protesters gathered on Cambridge Street near a 13-year old leak. Activists are particularly concerned that National Grid has backed away from its previous commitment to identify and repair the largest volume leaks, sometimes called “super-emitters.” These large volume leaks make up only about 7 percent of the more than 16,000 leaks in the state but they emit roughly 50 percent of the methane. The other large gas companies — Eversource and Columbia Gas — have already begun using the accepted method for identifying and repairing these leaks, while National Grid has said it will not do so until next year.

The Wellesley School Committee recently sent this letter to National Grid at the request of the Natural Resources Commission and Wellesley Green Schools, asking that the utility company take action on gas leaks near Wellesley schools and preschools.

An independent survey by the NRC last year revealed extensive leaks throughout town, including a number of leaks in or near school zones. Click here for a map showing Town-wide gas leak data

Earlier this month, the NRC invited Zeyneb Magavi, Research Director for HEET (Home Energy Efficiency Team), to speak at the Wellesley’s Green Collaborative about the state-wide efforts to address gas leaks. Ms. Magavi spoke about the partnership HEET has formed with gas companies National Grid, Eversource, and Columbia Gas to devise a reliable method to identify the largest volume gas leaks for urgent repair. She also explained HEET’s efforts to help homeowners and builders transition from fracked gas to electricity for heating and cooling, and appliances.

She also addressed the serious issue of fracking – the process of injecting toxic chemicals and high-pressure water into fissures in underground rocks to extract gas. The gas we use in New England is fracked in Pennsylania. With HEET, Magavi is working to build relationships with families in Pennsylvania who have been devastated by the health impacts fracking.

Click here for more on gas leaks in Wellesley.

Thank you to NRC for this update