Explosions happen alarmingly often

Richmond Gas Works’ leaks pose an intolerable explosion risk. With this many leaks, a deadly explosion could happen anywhere and anytime. We had a close call as recently as 2023! Localities around the United States regularly appear in national news after experiencing their own explosion: a home explosion Sterling, Virginia which killed one firefighter and injured 11 other people on February 17th, 2024; a building explosion in Washington, DC on January 18th, 2024, a hotel explosion which injured 21 people in Fort Worth, Texas on January 9th, 2024, and NFL player Caleb Farley’s home exploded on August 28th, 2023.

Explosions are caused by gas leaks, and Richmond has over 900 known leaks, and possibly many more we don’t yet know about. We have thousands of miles of pipes which makes the system impossible to maintain without leaking. As Richmond continues expanding its gas infrastructure, the problem becomes more severe. The simple truth is that gas leaks, and leaked gas can ignite or explode. Richmond City Council and the Mayor should prioritize building clean energy sources and winding down gas usage in the City.

Gas is poisoning the air in your home and workplace

Gas leaks expose you and your loved ones to toxic, carcinogenic chemicals like benzene. Long-term exposure can increase the likelihood of blood disorders and cancers like leukemia. Even when your gas appliances are turned off, they could still be leaking toxic gasses like benzene into your home. A study in California found that three-quarters of the pollution from a gas stove occurred when it was turned off.

When it’s not leaking, burning gas with a stove or a furnace in your home increases your risk of developing chronic diseases like asthma. Burned gas produces indoor air pollutants like nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, which children are especially vulnerable to. One study found that as many as 12.7% of all childhood asthma cases are caused by gas stoves. Asthma causing gas pollution makes Richmond especially hard to live in since it’s the third-worst place in the nation to live with asthma.

Protecting the health of ourselves and our loved ones requires that we replace toxic gas appliances with clean and efficient electric ones.


Leaked gas is polluting Richmond

Continuing our dependence on natural gas adds more and more pollution into our air, leading to dangerous weather like heat domes and floods caused by torrential rains. Natural gas consists mostly of the chemical methane, a very dangerous pollutant. It traps dangerous levels of heat in our communities, making storms like Hurricane Gaston more likely, severe, damaging, and expensive.

The common claim that gas is cleaner than alternative fuels like coal is a lie told by fossil fuel companies. It fails to account for gas leaked from where it’s extracted in the ground, to the thousands of miles of pipeline, to the distribution system under our streets, and to the appliances in our homes. According to a 2023 study, if total leaks are greater than 4,7% then gas is more polluting than burning coal. The Richmond Times Dispatch reported that Richmond Gas Works lost 14% of its gas in January 2022, making gas far dirtier than burning coal during that time, and this didn’t even account for leaks from extraction, transmission, or in our homes.