Notify NYC is the City of New York’s official (and terrific) source for real-time information about emergency events and city services.
Among reports about missing persons, dangerous weather conditions, and transit delays, this free service alerts New Yorkers when natural gas is released into the air, as in this post, issued today:
Controlled odor of #NaturalGas in MN today 10AM-4PM from Ridgefield, NJ. Emergency personnel are on scene.
— NYCEM – Notify NYC (@NotifyNYC) June 15, 2015
Full disclosure, I’m a proud member of the “environmental movement,” recently decried by The Wall Street Journal for arguing against fracked gas by “stoking fears about chemical mixes leaching into aquifers, poisoned potable water and toxic spills.” That said, I ask if any agency – federal, state, or local – is adequately funded to measure the impact of “controlled releases” of gas such as this one reported by Notify NYC.
From what I’ve been able to gather so far, the Notify NYC alert describes a “blow-down” coming from a compressor or metering station on a commercial natural gas pipeline. These releases are done when maintenance is needed or in an emergency event to prevent a pipe from exploding. The entire content of the pipeline – methane, toluene, benzene, etc – is released in the transfer from one station to another. The long-term damage to the atmosphere is one part of the risk equation, another is the danger to people living in close proximity to the compressor or metering station.
I’m writing this post to ask if anyone is paying attention when a company releases fracked gas into the atmosphere around NYC, and if anyone is recording the greenhouse gases and any other toxins that are released.
Here’s what a blow-down looks and sounds like: