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Boston City Council Calls For Hearing On Gas Utility Companies

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Boston City Council meeting, Feb. 7, 2018.
Emily Judem/WGBH News

Boston city council is renewing their call for heightened regulation of gas utilities operating in the city.

Councilor Matt O’Malley, the council’s Environment & Sustainability Committee chair, called for a hearing to speak with gas company officials and regulators about the conditions of Boston's gas infrastructure — considered to be some of the oldest in the country.
 
“I am concerned, but I'm also confident that we have an opportunity to go above and beyond every safety precaution to protect the residents and the visitors of Boston,” O’Malley told reporters after Wednesday’s city council meeting.

The District 6 councilor sponsored an ordinance in 2016 that would have required gas companies to fix leaks within six years. That part of the ordinance was blocked in court by National Grid. The courts are still deciding whether to let stand the section of the ordinance requiring gas companies to report leaks.

City councilor-at-large and presumptive Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who co-sponsored the order for the hearing says Boston residents often complain of smelling gas. She wants to ask National Grid how they're addressing safety.

“The fear is palpable and it's substantiated by what just happened.  And so, we don't want people living in that fear so we have to manage it,” Pressley told WGBH after the meeting “And in order to manage it, we have to ask these questions.”

City Councilor Ed Flynn has a long list of questions for the company.
 
“What is the emergency response plan now with the disaster and 1,200 workers locked out? What is taking place in regards to training? I don't know if the replacement workers have the necessary training,” Flynn said.
 
A hearing date has yet to be scheduled, but is expected for sometime later this fall.

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