From the Office of Amy Paulin, Assemblymember, District 88, New York State Assembly
Editor's note: Assemblymember Amy Paulin represents the 88th New York State Assembly District, which includes Scarsdale, Eastchester, Tuckahoe, Bronxville, Pelham, Pelham Manor, and parts of New Rochelle and White Plains.
Jul. 4, 2018: Assemblymember Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale) announced that her bill to require gas companies to report the location and severity of gas leaks to the state and public safety officials (A. 467-A / S. 4264-A) passed the New York State Senate during the final two weeks of the legislative session. Since it had previously passed the Assembly, it will now proceed to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature or veto.
Under current regulations, gas companies are required to classify leaks of natural gas according to severity, which is determined by a combination of location and the magnitude of the leak. They maintain internal records of the leaks but are not required to report them to the NYS Public Service Department, which instead relies on periodic audits of the companies to ensure compliance with relevant regulations. This means existing information on past gas leaks is generally unavailable to municipal or state public safety officials.
"The use of natural gas is on the rise and, with it, the increased risk of dangerous leaks," said Assemblymember Paulin. "Some types of heating oil are being phased out, particularly in high-density areas like New York City, which is a good thing, but it puts more of a strain on gas mains and service lines that are decades old. We need to give fire departments, other rapid responders, and public safety officials better information on the history and locations of gas leaks in their area so they can more effectively plan a safe response."
The bill would require gas companies to categorize all reported leaks of natural gas by severity and report annually to the NYS Department of Service on the date of repair, location, and severity of each leak. That information would then be available to any municipal or state public safety official and to members of the legislature. The bill would also require the NYS Public Service Commission to investigate the need for additional winter surveillance of gas pipelines due to the number of dangerous leak incidents precipitated by frost.
Over the past decade, New York City has seen dozens of highly dangerous gas leaks that led to evacuations, injuries, and, in some cases, fatalities. Investigative reporting by the New York Daily News found 105,000 gas leak incidents between 2009 and February 2014.
"The goal is transparency," added Assemblymember Paulin. "Knowing that there have been gas leaks at a particular spot, and how severe those leaks have been, can help public safety officials and first responders facilitate safe, rapid responses to accidents and other emergencies near those locations. That in turn can help prevent future property damage, injuries, or even loss of life."
Pictured here: Amy Paulin, Assemblymember, District 88, New York State Assembly.
Photo courtesy Office of Assemblymember Amy Paulin
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