The report concluded that few countries experienced more large gas leaks than Georgia

Few states see more natural gas leaks from pipelines than Georgia does, according to a new analysis of federal accident data, which has led to millions of dollars in damage and at least two deaths here since 2010.

Georgia reported 59 pipeline leaks from 2010 to October last year — the 10th on record in any state — according to a recent report by the US Environmental Foundation, the US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) Education Fund and Frontier Group. Of these, 25 caused fires and six explosions.

In addition to the dead, at least nine people were injured in those accidents, according to the report’s data.

The natural gas leaks included in the report were those that caused injuries, deaths or serious property damage, which had to be reported to the federal government. The leaks in Georgia resulted in more than $30 million in gas losses, repairs and property damage within the time frame, according to the press release.

Leaks are a prime example of the dangers of natural gas. Last August, a fire engulfed a pipeline under a bridge along Atlanta’s Cheshire Bridge Road, endangering the bridge. Businesses along the street can still feel the weight of the bridge closing.

The owner of a Mexican grocery store and restaurant, Mercado Acapulco y Taqueria, said his sales have lost 30% since the bridge closed. He said customers placed orders over the phone but never received them due to road closures.

“The bridge was the closest way to get to my store,” Gaibri said. “Now they have to go all the way through the Piedmont (the road) or some other way, which takes up some lunch hour.”

The estimated cost related to the Cheshire Bridge accident — from property damage, emergency response and lost gas — is more than $10.3 million, according to the accident report.

The gas leaks report revealed there were nearly 2,600 reported leaks nationally, and 368 of these leaks caused explosions from 2010 to October 2021. Nationwide, the leaks cost $4 billion, according to the report.

Despite ranking in the top ten, the number of leaks in Georgia was modest compared to those in other states. Texas, for example, has reported 287, followed by California with 229 since 2010.

The dangers of gas leaks are not limited to a few states, said Matthew Casal, director of environmental campaigns at the US Berg Group. The leaks have killed 122 people and injured 603 across the country since 2010, according to the report. Investments in the gas system should prioritize the most serious leaks, Casal said, but that ultimately, society should move away from gas.

Despite being a fossil fuel, natural gas is often marketed as a “cleaner” alternative to coal. And while burning it produces less carbon dioxide than burning coal, natural gas consists mostly of methane, another potent greenhouse gas capable of trapping nearly 25 times more heat over its lifespan than carbon dioxide, according to the Federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“We could have a power system where we power our homes with clean electricity,” Casal said. “It won’t happen overnight but we can and should start doing the things that start moving us more quickly in that direction.”

Roughly half of Georgia’s electricity in 2020, was generated by burning natural gas, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Nuclear energy produces 27% and 12% from renewable energy sources such as solar energy. According to the Energy Information Administration, coal-fired plants also accounted for 12% of the state’s electricity supply in 2020.

Georgia Power, the state’s largest utility, is seeking approval from the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) for a plan that would phase out most of the company’s coal plants while expanding its reliance on natural gas and solar power. The groups behind the report urged the utility company and PSC to stay away from gas.

Georgia Power said in a statement that it needs a balanced mix of energy and that natural gas is important to its power generation plans.

“As our state continues to grow and rapidly develop in energy, we recognize and respect our customers’ focus on the reliability and resilience of Georgia’s electrical system, expanding our clean energy resources and Georgia Power’s continued ability to safely and reliably meet their needs. Georgia Power spokeswoman Kelly Richardson said in a statement.” energy needs”.

A study published in 2019 estimated that moving to fully renewable energy sources could cost $7.8 trillion in the United States, but that subsequent electricity and heating sales will pay for that cost. In contrast, a Deloitte report published in January found that “inadequate action” on climate change would cost the US economy $14.5 trillion over the next 50 years.

The report on the natural gas leak comes months after the Biden administration announced in January new parts of its plan to cut methane emissions. A new federal law announced in March mandates that automatic or remote-controlled shut-off valves must be installed on new or replaced hazardous liquid pipelines, including natural gas pipelines, according to a press release.

The US Department of Transportation began accepting applications in May for a grant program to replace high-risk and leak-prone natural gas distribution infrastructure, according to a press release. The program, which was created with the passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Act in November 2021, will provide $200 million annually for five years.

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