NYC Steam Pipe-compressed Photo: Dan DeLuca/Flickr

A recent CBS2 investigation describes New York City’s outdated gas lines as a “ticking time bomb” below New York City streets. In the report a natural gas expert told the network that the infrastructure was “way past its service life” and called it “dangerous.”

Subterranean gas lines were first built in New York City 100 years ago, and much of that infrastructure has gone without updating since then — a problem that especially affects Northern Manhattan and the Bronx.

The Center for an Urban Future reports that the average age of gas mains in New York City is 56 years old, and the average national age for leaky pipelines is 44 years old.

While the CBS2 report sounded the alarm on the issue, a number of measures are in place to quickly and safely replace the lines and check for problems.

Con Edison says that it has been aggressively combating the issue since 2014. Since then, it has replaced mains at a rate of 65 miles per year. It hopes to increase that number to 100 miles per year. The Public Service Enterprise Group of Long Island says that it has also been working on updating its lines, doing so at a rate of more than 150 miles per year. In 2016, it hopes to raise that number to 510 miles per year.

Con Edison inspects all of its gas mains approximately once a month and covers all streets within its service territory on a yearly basis. It also uses a mobile leak-detection vehicle for 12 additional yearly surveys, covering all 4,300 miles of their main distribution lines.

Still, just last week, a leak prompted the evacuation of two Midtown office buildings. Officials discovered an eight-inch leak coming from the main on 37th Street. They were alerted to the issue not through internal checks, but because people in the buildings reported smelling gas.

Con Edison offers an online gas leak map to view daily reports, but asks the public to report any possible leaks, even if they are already included on the map.

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