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Aging Natural Gas Pipes: How Safe Are Our Cities?

A police officer near the scene of a gas leak explosion that caused two buildings to collapse on Park Avenue and 116th street in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan March 12, 2014 in New York City. (Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)
A police officer near the scene of a gas leak explosion that caused two buildings to collapse on Park Avenue and 116th street in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan March 12, 2014 in New York City. (Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)

Rescue workers with dogs and thermal units are searching the rubble for victims of a the gas explosion earlier this week in Manhattan, as investigators struggle to pinpoint where the leak came from and try to determine whether it was caused by the city’s aging infrastructure. Eight bodies have been pulled from the debris, but rescue workers have, so far, only cleared about half the site.

The explosion is raising questions about aging infrastructure around the country, where decades-old cast-iron pipes are still used to deliver gas. New York City is fitted with about 3,000 miles of these pipes, Boston about 2,000 miles and Philadelphia about 1,500 — all of which raises questions about public safety and what building owners, homeowners and renters can do to protect their properties and their families.

Bob Ackley owns Gas Safety USA, which consults with cities about gas leaks. He’s also conducted the Washington and Boston Gas Leak Studies in conjunction with Duke and Boston Universities. He discusses the issue with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson.

Guest

  • Bob Ackley, owner of Gas Safety USA, which consults with cities about gas leaks.

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