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Google's latest project: mapping small gas leaks in US cities

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Gas leakGoogle Street View cars outfitted with special sensors have identified hundreds of small but steady methane leaks lying beneath the streets in three US cities.

The specially equipped cars drove the streets of Boston, Staten Island, and Indianapolis sniffing out minor gas leaks for a pilot mapping project in conjunction with the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund and local utility companies. EDF released the findings online Wednesday, along with a set of interactive maps.

 

The leaks identified by this study do not represent a safety threat but do add up to a large volume of smog-inducing, greenhouse gas emissions, EDF chief scientist Steven Hamburg told reporters during a media briefing about the pilot program Wednesday.

While utilities are federally mandated to address large gas leaks that pose hazards to property and people, smaller, chronic leaks typically fall by the wayside until the pipes can be fully replaced, Mr. Hamburg said.

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