Hank Investigates: Woburn Gas Leaks

WOBURN, MASS. (WHDH) - Residents of one local neighborhood say they had a close call. Until they contacted 7 Investigates’ Hank Phillippi Ryan– no one knew there was a dangerous gas leak under their street. Hank Investigates.

For years residents in this Woburn neighborhood have been dealing with a nasty smell.

“It’s been very difficult living day to day,” Michael says.

Michael Millette says he and his neighbors on Winter Street suspected it was a gas leak.

“We’d smell a constant flow of that gas smell,” Michael says.

When Michael complained to the gas company, he was told it was a “low-level” leak in the underground line near his home and it was smelly, but not dangerous.

“They said, ‘We’d fix it eventually,’” Michael says.

Michael says the leak started in 2018, around the same time as the Merrimack Valley gas disaster. And that made people in his neighborhood understandably uneasy.

“So that was fresh in your minds?” Hank asked.

“That was very fresh in our minds. I have family in Lawrence, and so I was very much afraid for my house and our neighbor’s houses,” Michael says.

At times the smell got stronger, making residents more worried.

Michael finally called 7 Investigates for help.

We contacted the gas company who immediately sent a crew. And that’s when they discovered there was another leak!

It was right down the street from Michael’s house in an old underground pipe. And that leak was dangerous.

“I was shocked. I really was shocked,” Michael says.

The gas company fixed it that night.

“Our neighbors are happy that this got addressed,” Michael says.

The gas company says it always takes calls about leaks seriously.

It has now also fixed the low-level leak near Michael’s house. And the smell is gone!

“We are just we’re all just extremely grateful for Channel Seven. I’m just glad that there’s a team out there that’s mission is to help the little guys,” Michael says.

There are thousands of gas leaks statewide that are categorized as not dangerous. That means the gas company can monitor them and doesn’t have to repair them immediately. Michael’s gas company tells us it will soon launch a new system to help residents track these kinds of leaks.

If you smell natural gas here’s information on what to do from the American Gas Association:

  • Leave the building immediately and take others with you. If you are outside when you smell the gas, leave the area immediately.
  • Avoid causing a spark, which might cause the gas to explode:
  • Do not light a match or smoke.
  • Do not turn appliances or lights on or off.
  • Do not use a flashlight.
  • Do not start a car.
  • Do not use a telephone.
  • Find a phone away from the area and call 911 or your natural gas utility. You can report leaks anonymously. Always call to report the problem. Do not assume someone else will do it.
  • Follow directions from utility employees or emergency responders who are on site.

If you have a tip or story idea email TellHank@whdh.com

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