Senators urge DEP to rescind Weymouth compressor permits

By Ed Baker | Weymouth News

Massachusetts DEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg is being urged to reject and revoke all permits issued by the agency for a proposed compressor station in the Fore River Basin by State Sen. Patrick O’Connor, R-Weymouth and 28 of his Senate colleagues.

“I’m very humbled by the support of my colleagues in fighting the proposed compressor station in North Weymouth,” O’Connor said in a release. “This is a precedent-setting project that will have repercussions throughout the entire Commonwealth if it’s approved. Every community deserves an open and transparent process when the quality of life of their residents and neighborhoods are at stake.”

The request to rescind and reject all permits granted for the proposed compressor station was stated in a letter to Suuberg which was signed by O’Connor and 28 senators.

South Shore legislators who signed the letter in addition to O’Connor include: Sen. John Keenan, D- Quincy, and Sen. Walter F. Timilty, D- Milton.

Suuberg must decide whether to reissue an air quality permit for the facility to Spectra Enbridge Energy on Friday.

He originally had a June 28 deadline to decide whether to issue a new air quality permit for the proposed facility.

A previous permit granted to Spectra Energy on Jan. 11 was unsuccessfully appealed by officials from Weymouth, Braintree, Quincy and the Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station.

The deadline for issuing a new air quality permit was extended by DEP Hearing Officer Jane Rothchild when the agency’s attorneys testified under oath on June 10 that the department had known that air-quality data from the site was incomplete for weeks.

Rothchild rejected the appeal of the previously issued air quality permit to Spectra Energy in a ruling on June 27.

She stated, “preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that the permit sufficiently regulates air contaminants to prevent a condition of air pollution,” in her ruling.

State Sen. John Keenan, D-Quincy, stated the DEP lacked transparency while evaluating the proposed compressor since the application process began.

“It’s imperative that the DEP listen to this call of bi-partisan concern and rescind all permits related to the construction of this compressor station,” Keenan stated in a release. “With this letter, the majority of the Massachusetts State Senate is calling on the DEP to reevaluate their priorities, and to once again put the health and safety of the Commonwealth’s residents before big industry and natural gas.”

The letter signed by the senators also states the proposed site for the compressor station is unsafe because there are 903 homes within a half-mile of the site and 3,100 children who live or go to school within one mile of the location.

“This would also be the first compressor station to be located on a public waterway, only a few feet above sea level,” stated the senators. “The stark contrast between the Weymouth site and a typical compressor station parcels represents a dangerous precedent that the Commonwealth would be setting if this project were to move forward.”

O’Connor stated the construction of a compressor station in the Fore River Basin would set a national precedent with allowing natural gas facilities to be built in residential neighborhoods instead of remote areas.

“Massachusetts has always been one of the worldwide leaders when it comes to protecting our environment and our citizens from pollutants,” he stated.