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Explosions but NOT in Georgetown
Explosions but NOT in Georgetown

"There have been at least 60 natural gas leaks within a 5 to 6 block radius in Georgetown's East Village since 2016," said Edward Segal, Georgetown Gas Safety Advocate, who says this is a "very conservative estimate." Segal has been monitoring the leaks and communicating updates through his website, Georgetown's Gas Leaks.

The fear is of a potential repeat in Georgetown of the series of natural gas leaks and explosions that occurred recently in the north Boston area. On September 13, the explosions lead to dozens of home fires that killed a teenager, injured 25 people, damaged 42 buildings, affected 8,600 gas customers, and left large numbers of people homeless.

Georgetown's leaks, so far, are only causing manhole covers to explode and Georgetown's shade trees to die, according to Bob Ackley, an independent gas safety expert from Gas Safety USA. But, he warned Georgetown's ANC and Councilmember Jack Evans, "No community can afford to be lulled into a false sense of confidence about the safety of their gas pipelines."

Washington Gas has not provided any information to the community about when, where or why there are gas leaks. But they are required to provide that information to the DC government.

"We need accountability and full disclosure from Washington Gas," said Segal. "Washington Gas should share with the public the same information it is required by law to share with the DC government," he added.

So, what to do when the gas company isn't cooperating and the government isn't sharing? That's what The DC Public Service Commission is for. The DCPSC protects consumers by keeping public utilities safe, reliable, affordable, environmentally sound, and it's designed to resolve disputes between utilities and their consumers. Segal filed complaints with the PSCDC against Washington Gas, worked with them for over a year, and the result, Segal said, was disappointing. "No commissioner ever saw my complaint; the staff simply forwarded the complaint to Washington Gas. There were no hearings, no process, no response," Segal said.

"Maybe they should read their own mission statements," said Segal.