July 22, 2014

NYS Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal’s Letter to Con Ed Concerning Radon in Natural Gas

Download the letter as a pdf

December 19, 2013

Kevin Burke
Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer
Consolidated Edison Company of New York
4 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003

Dear Mr. Burke:

The New Jersey-New York Expansion Project, commonly referred to as the “Spectra Pipeline,” went online on November 1, 2013, and is now delivering natural gas to thousands of homes in New York City. As Consolidated Edison of New York (Con Edison) shifts its reliance from predominantly oil-based energy to natural gas, I have concerns regarding the safety of the gas being delivered to homes throughout the metropolitan area.

As you are aware, radon forms naturally from the decay of radioactive elements, such as uranium, which are found at different levels in soil and rock formations throughout the world, including in shale deposits from which natural gas is extracted. It is also colorless and odorless, and the second leading cause of cancer in the United States after smoking. I am deeply concerned about the potential for high levels of radon in the gas being delivered via the Spectra Pipeline, and others like it in our area.

Radon has a half-life of approximately 3.8 days, which means that as natural gas containing radon travels from great distances, such as Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, the level of radon will naturally diminish over time, reducing the risk to public health. With the Spectra Pipeline delivering natural gas to homes that is sourced from locations as close as Pennsylvania and upstate New York, there is an increased risk that radon levels will exceed maximum acceptable levels for human exposure. It is imperative that customers have information about the radon levels in the gas mix being delivered to them.

To that end, I request that Con Edison provide me with the following information, such that I may make it available to my constituents, your customers.

  • The source(s) of natural gas currently being supplied through Con Edison’s distribution system to New York. Please break down the source(s) by percentage and geographic location.
  • The frequency with which Con Edison blends its gas mix.
  • Whether Con Edison currently monitors the radon levels in its gas mix. If so, what are the current and historical levels of radon in Con Edison’s gas mix at various delivery points served, owned or controlled by Con Edison? If no, please explain the reasons why.
  • If radon levels in Con Edison’s gas mix are elevated at any point in time, what mitigation efforts, if any, does Con Edison have in place? What level of radon in the gas mix would trigger mitigation efforts by Con Edison?

As the City transitions away from oil to greater reliance on natural gas, it is critical that Con Edison be transparent when it comes to the public’s health. I appreciate your prompt response to my inquiry. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to your prompt response to my inquiry.

Sincerely,
Linda B. Rosenthal
Member of Assembly – 67 AD