October 4, 2019



Urgent Call to Action - Social Media Solidarity
Many of our readers are from the far western edge of Massachusetts, and it may be hard to get out to Weymouth on a regular basis to lend physical support to their ongoing fight against the compressor station that Enbridge wants to build there. While they would surely welcome your presence at any of the ongoing actions, here's one you can do from your home town that will help show solidarity across the state.

Take action online this Friday, Saturday or Sunday
October 4, 5 or 6.

From Nathan Phillips:
Friday, Saturday or Sunday - do this in front of your town/city hall or any suitable place - I’ll do so in front of Newton city hall in the a.m. Then post your selfie on social media, tagging @MassGovernor, @MassDEP, @FRRACS_MA & add #NoWeymouthCompressor. You’ll have joined us!

This is an easy way to dip your toe in a direct action; send a strong message that will be seen by the governor and Mass DEP and let the folks at FRRACS know that ALL of MA has their backs!

(Make sure to include the name of your town as above.)
Please share this call to action with friends in other towns!

Other ways you can help!
As always - Check in with FRRACS at nocompressor.com for the latest updates and calls to action from Weymouth. Also follow their Facebook and Twitter  feeds.

Take the Weymouth Action Pledge!
The final permits have not been issued, so MassDEP still has time to do the right thing. We call on MassDEP to protect the health of the people and the environment, not the pockets of polluters, by denying the remaining permits for the Weymouth compressor station. If Governor Baker can use a state law to ban vaping as a public health emergency that has sickened ten residents, Governor Baker and MassDEP can do the same to put an end to a 7700 HP public health emergency that will affect tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents.  MassDEP should not stand for “Department of Enbridge Promotion,” but instead for “Deny Enbridge Permits.”

We will continue fight this dangerous proposal but we need support from everyone.
Join us in putting an end to this dangerous proposal by
signing our Pledge to Take Action!

From Mass Power Forward
Put Baker in the Spotlight- Vols Needed!
We need volunteers all over the state who are willing to turn on a dime, print a sign at home, and show up where he is to ask that question, or stand visibly with it. Sign up here to get the text alerts for opportunities near you.

Compressor protester arrested at state offices
as Markey tours site

By Jessica Trufant, The Patriot Ledger
Oct 2, 2019

Nathan Phillips, a Boston University professor, was arrested on a charge of trespassing by Boston police during the protest of the proposed 7,700-horsepower natural gas compressor station proposed by Algonquin, a subsidiary of Spectra Energy-Enbridge. The charge against Phillips was later dropped, said Laura Borth, a member of the Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station.

Borth was one of a handful of Weymouth residents who showed up at the agency Wednesday and blocked the entrance.

“I think the message of DEP needing to deny the remaining permits got across clear today,” she said.

Opponents of the station say it will increase pollution and affect the health and safety of residents who live near the proposed compressor, which would be built at the basin of the Fore River.
Also on Wednesday morning, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., visited the proposed compressor site with state Sen. Patrick O’Connor, state Rep. James Murphy, Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch and Alice Arena of the Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station.
In 2017, Markey and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren asked the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration to conduct a full risk assessment of the compressor station to learn more about potential dangers. Since then, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved the project, against the strong objections of local residents.
Markey discussed avenues for prohibiting the construction of any compressor station that would be part of a project to allow the exportation of natural gas overseas.

» Read article

Weymouth compressor foes want new health study done

By Ed Baker, Wickedlocal.com
October 1, 2019

A state health impact assessment of a proposed compressor station site states there would be no substantial health impacts from direct exposure to the facility, but opponents want a new evaluation done.

“We gave a list of demands to Gov. Baker,” said Alice Arena, leader of the Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station (FRRACS). “We want to let Gov. Baker know we are not going away until the compressor goes away.”

Baker ordered a health impact assessment of the Fore River Basin in July 2017.
The study stated health impacts from the proposed compressor station may be possible through “perceived pollution levels and less comfort with using the nearby outdoor space.”
Weymouth resident Andrea Honore said the state health impact assessment was flawed because it did not get underway until late 2018.

“He (Baker) promised it would be done in 2017, but nothing happened until late 2018,” she said. “It was a condensed study with hundreds of pages. It was not done properly.”

» Read article    

Could it happen here?: Gas explosion in Merrimack Valley hangs over new pipeline efforts

By Chris Goudreau, Valley Advocate
October 2, 2019

In response to the [Merrimack Valley] disaster, Gov. Charlie Baker ordered the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to commission a comprehensive independent assessment of the gas distribution system in the Commonwealth. In March, Gov. Baker signed legislation allocating $1.5 million toward the creation of that study by Texas-based Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems chosen by the DPU.

But Gov. Baker and the state of Massachusetts aren’t the only ones investigating the gas infrastructure in the Commonwealth. A coalition of more than 10 nonprofits called Gas Leaks Allies recently published its own 60-page study on Sept. 13 titled Rolling the Dice: Assessment of Gas System Safety in Massachusetts, which covers the condition of the gas systems, analyses gas incidents in the state, examines utility practices and DPU oversight, and looks at the future of natural gas in Massachusetts.

“Longer-term safety, health, and climate protection require an orderly, cost-effective, managed transition from dependence on gas to a safer, cleaner, and more resilient system based on renewable energy, thermal technologies, and energy efficiency,” it concludes.

» Read article    

Activists mark gas leaks in Easthampton, citing environmental and safety concerns

By Bera Dunau, Daily Hampshire Gazette
October 2, 2019

EASTHAMPTON — A group of activists spent Sunday labeling the sites of reported gas leaks in the city to draw attention to what they consider to be environmental and public safety concerns.

In Massachusetts, gas companies are required to report the sites of gas leaks annually. In 2018, 17 unrepaired leaks were reported in Easthampton. “They do it at the end of the year,” said Connie Dawson, of Easthampton, who helped organize the event.

Dawson said Columbia Gas repaired 11 Grade 1 leaks in 2018, leaks that have to be repaired immediately because they represent a safety hazard, according to information the group gleaned from the Home Energy Efficiency Team, a Cambridge-based nonprofit that focuses on energy efficiency.

On Sunday, each of the 17 reported leaks were labeled with signs, in an event sponsored by Easthampton Climate Action and the Easthampton Democratic Committee.
Dawson expressed concern with the leaks both from a safety perspective and with the methane they leak into the environment. Dawson also said that there may be other leaks.
“It doesn’t include any leaks that may have occurred since then,” she said.

» Read article    

Human error cause of latest Lawrence gas leak, officials say

By WCVB, Channel 5
September 28, 2019

A gas leak that forced hundreds of Lawrence residents from their homes early Friday was caused by human error, according to officials.

In a joint statement, the Department of Public Utilities, Columbia Gas and the City of Lawrence said contractors working for the city inadvertently closed a gas valve, puncturing a gas main in the process.

Officials believe this gas valve was not compliant with DPU standards should have been disabled as part of pipeline reconstruction in 2018.

» Read article    

State utility regulator slams Columbia Gas: DPU wants "detailed work plan" describing how gas company intends to prevent leaks

By Bill Kirk, Eagle-Tribune
October 1, 2019

LAWRENCE — The state Department of Public Utilities came out swinging Tuesday, hammering Columbia Gas for breaking federal law in one letter and then threatening to fine them $1 million for every violation listed in another letter – both of which were issued as a result of last Friday's Level 1 gas leak.

Last week's leak forced the evacuation of dozens of homes and businesses in the same South Lawrence neighborhood devastated by last year's gas disaster. Hundreds of people were displaced and forced to seek reimbursement for lost food, wages and more.

In the first letter, issued Tuesday morning, DPU Chairman Matthew Nelson told Columbia Gas President Mark Kempic that the utility company must submit a "detailed work plan" describing how it intends to prevent future gas leaks like the one that occurred around 3 a.m. Friday.

» Read article   

Columbia Gas ordered to stop work in Mass.: State DPU says emergency work only due to ongoing problems

By Bill Kirk, Eagle Tribune
October 3, 2019

The state Department of Public Utilities has all but ordered Columbia Gas to cease operations in Massachusetts as a result of last year's gas disaster and more recent gas leaks and quality control issues that have plagued residents and businesses in the Merrimack Valley.

Columbia Gas is going along with the request.

On Thursday, the chairman of the DPU, Matthew Nelson, penned a letter to Columbia Gas president Mark Kempic, saying the company could only perform emergency work in the state.

"In recent weeks, the DPU has become aware of several troubling issues involving the operations of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts," he wrote. "On Sept. 11, 2019, you reported issues relating to service lines that were abandoned during the restoration work in Merrimack Valley following last year’s gas line event.

"Additionally, while investigating a Grade 1 gas leak in Lawrence on Sept. 27, 2019, the DPU discovered that, during the restoration efforts, Columbia Gas failed to follow required procedures ...

Nelson noted that the DPU's concerns "are significant, and have led to the opening of multiple new investigations."

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