LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — A new report has found nearly 6,000 natural gas leaks in Washington, D.C., including 12 in manholes where high methane levels posed a risk of explosion.
Researchers from Duke University and Boston University used methane gas-detection instruments to detect 5,893 leaks under the streets of the nation’s capital.
The team found 19 of the leaks had high levels of methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and is the primary ingredient of natural gas.
Twelve of those manholes could have caused explosions because of their high concentrations of methane — about 10 times the threshold at which explosions can occur.
In February, the scientists say they reported the high-level leaks to Washington Gas. But four months later, the team found several leaks still had dangerously-high methane concentrations that could cause explosions.
“Somewhere underground where the gas is leaking out, in potential, is dangerous,” Rob Jackson, professor of environmental sciences at Duke who led the study, told WNEW’s Kevin Rincon.
The average methane concentration discovered in the leaks was reportedly more than two times higher than the background concentration collected in the city.
Methane levels in some leaks, according to the study, were about 45 times higher than normal background levels.