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In Shift, Utility Plans To Repair Environmentally Significant Gas Leaks


   A utility company in western Massachusetts has announced an unprecedented effort to repair hundreds of natural gas leaks that climate activists say cause environmental damage.

   Columbia Gas Company president Steve Bryant said the utility will prioritize and then begin to repair the estimated 2,400 leaks in the 60 municipalities it serves including the cities of Springfield and Northampton.

   " We will be undertaking this as rapidly as we can," Bryant announced Thursday.

  The leaks, classified as “Grade 3” pose no danger to life and property, and have previously not been a priority for repair. 

   Climate activists praised the gas company’s new leak repair strategy and called for it to become a standard for the industry.

A study estimated the biggest Grade 3 leaks waste about $1,400 worth of gas a year.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.