Uncertainty of gas leak haunts homeowner

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Theresa Tortolani, whose home on Crestwood Road is not far from Garden City, got another visit from a National Grid crew Friday. They were there to check her home for any natural gas that might have seeped into her basement from a leaking pipe in the street in front of her home. Gas can follow utility lines, whether a gas or water line, into a house.

The good news is that no gas was detected in her home. But that was hardly reassuring to Tortolani. In the last year there have been so many leaks in front of her property – her guess is that Grid has repaired the pipe at least nine times – that she fears one of these days the gas will find its way into her home. It could happen while she is asleep or when she’s not home. What might happen then? It’s living with that unknown that has her anxious.

But Tortolani is also angry.

As the leaking pipe is a known problem and scheduled for replacement in the spring as part of a larger program to replace neighborhood lines, why not replace that segment of pipe now and be done with it?

“It’s getting to be every other week now,” Tortoliani said of leaks and the visits from a Grid crew. Outside her living room window a four-man crew was breaking through a patched trench and digging down to the pipe.

The supervisor on the job explained that the most recent leak had been detected when they monitored the site and that it remained a grade 2 leak (on a scale of 3) and was not deemed an emergency. He said the service to the neighborhood was most likely installed in the 1950s and is scheduled for replacement next year. He said the Crestwood line is now the first scheduled to be replaced. Once identified, a clamp is placed over the leak without shutting off the service. Replacing the line requires shutting down the service and reinstalling all the service connections.

The supervisor did not know how many times crews have returned to patch the pipe in front of Tortolani’s home. This was his second visit within a month. He said Grid would continue to monitor the site and if conditions deteriorated more extensive action would be taken.

In an email, National Grid spokesman Ted Kresse said, “We continue to monitor the situation and, depending on what we find, there may be a need for additional repairs before we can fully replace the main.”

“They’re monitoring it, but that’s not making me feel any safer,” said Tortolani. “We’ve been complaining all summer long. It’s a shame they can’t do anything with it.”

She said she tries to “push it out of my mind,” adding, “you can only be reassured so much.”

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