The South Shore is home for many. It could be home for a natural gas compressor station, contributing to air pollution, harming health and affecting safety.
The proposed 7700-horsepower at 50 Bridge Street in Weymouth would be built by Algonquin Gas Transmission, a subsidiary of Spectra Energy. It pressurizes natural gas extracted in Pennsylvania by hydraulic fracturing along a pipeline, reaching Canada. The project is part of the Atlantic Bridge Project, for the sale of U.S. natural gas to international markets.
“Compressor stations are typically built in rural locations because of their impact on the environment,” said Wendy Sheu, a concerned citizen and member of , a grassroots movement of mothers and grandmothers coming together to address climate change. “One of the most troubling aspects is the existing and anticipated levels of air toxins in the affected communities such as formaldehyde and benzene, which are both known carcinogens.”
There are 930 homes within a half-mile radius, with 3,100 children living or going to school within a mile of the proposed site. A total of 13,000 children attend 38 different schools within 3 miles of the site.
Mothers Out Front member and Newton violin instructor Amy Tai said, “We want Gov. Baker to deny the permit and not allow the Weymouth compressor station to be built.”
Tai and Sheu are part of a bilingual canvassing team within Mothers Out Front, made up of a dozen people from the Greater Boston area, ranging in age from 16 to 60. The team came together in recent months, and includes moms, students, young professionals, recent immigrants and American-born Chinese. All members share a concern for the environment and the communities that will be affected by the compressor station.
Mothers Out Front supports the , a coalition of residents from Quincy, Weymouth, Braintree and Hingham. Construction of the project faces opposition from and residents, including Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch, Weymouth Mayor Robert Hedlund and Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan. Other opponents include Mass. Attorney General Maura Healey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Ed Markey.
A health impact assessment for air pollution was conducted in 2017 by the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Public Far merits. Results from a January report approved the facility for air quality, despite more than 1,200 opposing . The assessment drew a rebuttal from the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility (GBPSR), which cited data on the site and research from communities with similar facilities.
“The health impact assessment shows that residents of the Fore River Basin are already burdened with excess rates of lung disease, heart disease and cancer,” wrote the GBPSR in a . “These people — nearly half of whom are considered an ‘environmental justice’ population as defined by the Baker administration — require greater, not lesser, environmental safeguards to protect their health.”
The physicians group noted the Weymouth site was too thickly settled for a compressor station that processes flammable gas. “Compressor stations are almost never sited in densely populated, coastal areas like Weymouth,” wrote GBPSR. “Residents living nearby, particularly children, the elderly and the disabled, could not be safely evacuated in the event of an emergency. … We call on Governor Baker to protect the health and lives of the residents of Massachusetts by rescinding the air quality permit for the proposed compressor station in Weymouth.”
Tai and Sheu plan to raise awareness on the proposed facility among the Asian American community on the South Shore. Individuals or groups interested in outreach to Chinese speakers can email [email protected].
This post is also available in: Chinese