• ECHO Action Editor

Gas leak reported and deemed safe until daily emergency calls are promised

Below is my account of an incident in Manalapan, NJ on July 26th, in a residential development, after I smelled a gas leak on a walk with my dog.

10:43 am


I'm in New Jersey and as I'm walking my dog this morning, I went past a neighbor's house and SMELLED GAS, and not a small whiff of it either. New Jersey Natural Gas had been working on the site just yesterday, so I called them and reported the leak. The leak is on the grass strip between the sidewalk and the street.

I was asked if I can only smell something, or if I see something too. I said that they weren't any flames if that's what she was asking. No response. The person who took my call told me not to spark anything near it and they would send someone out within an hour. They were here within 15 minutes.

A NJNG worker dressed in dark pants and a company tee walked up our driveway and told me they know about the leak, they were here yesterday and that it's not a problem. I asked why it's still leaking if they know about it. He said they know about ALL THE LEAKS in the area, that they're classified and they're not going to fix them. Again he told me it's not a problem.

I asked him if he has informed the neighbor that the gas leak won't be repaired. He said yes and they're okay with it. He tried to tell me again that it's not a problem.

I explained that uncontrolled methane releases are a health issue, a safety risk and a climate problem. He repeated that they had "all the leaks in this area classified" and it's not a problem. I told him that it is a problem and that if I continue to smell gas, I will continue to report the problem until it's resolved.

A few moments later, the man had his hard hat on, a neon vest and proceeded to do what I presume to be an emissions test in front of the house with the reported leak and two adjacent houses including ours.

In New Jersey, natural (fracked) gas is piped directly into many homes. If residents are told that what they smell is safe, most take this as an acceptable answer because it has been in use for so long.

NJ just denied permits for the PennEast pipeline that has had strong opposition. Even in a state full of refineries, they understand that the fossil fuel era is coming to an end and that their health and safety deserve to be guarded.

Whether street level leaks are charged to consumers is unclear, but ultimately, we all pay for the consequences either way.

If someone were to sit on the curb and decide to have a cigarette, are these emissions still safe? If children play within close proximity, is it still safe?

Since I called about an hour ago, we're now up to THREE GAS TRUCKS. I thought they said it's safe and there's no problem. What about all the other gas leaks that they have no intention of getting under control?

2:41 pm

GAS GAMES: The leak warranted repair, a personal chat with a gas company representative

WHOA! Apparently, the gas leak that wasn't a problem is now being worked on! The NJNG representative approached me and says the gas I smelled might have drifted from somewhere else, not where I smelled it, even though they're working on the location I reported. He now says they had planned to come back today and fix it, but it was never unsafe at all. Either way, one methane leak is being plugged up. Head's up New Jersey Natural Gas, citizens are watching, so don't #frack with us.

3:18 pm