Over the past several years, 12 trees have died on Mass. Ave. in the short distance between Jason Street and the library entrance in Arlington Center.
In addition, some remaining trees in this strip are at risk. To determine whether it is safe to plant replacement trees in these locations in the future, town Tree Warden Tim Lecuivre has used an advanced new tool, the “Gas Sentry,” to test for gas leaks along this street. He believes that the deaths are “most likely” attributable to the high level of methane gas in the soil near those sites, coming from leaks in gas utility NGRID’s pipes.
Some of the leaks were known to the utility and to the town, but they were graded by NGRID as not critical to fix. But the majority of the leaks detected by Lecuivre are not listed by NGRID and the Department of Public Utilities, in the publicly-available records of gas leaks recorded as active in 2017. This is not surprising as independent studies have shown that the actual number of leaks is up to three times higher than the number reported [HEETMA.org].
This is not a new issue in the greater Boston area. In 2015, the city of Brookline filed a lawsuit against National Grid over tree loss. Advocates claim Brookline has lost over $1 million worth of trees to the leaks in a problem they say crosses town lines. (read more)
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