Air quality tests have been requested for the North Weymouth, Massachusetts, area to check for benzene pollution levels.
U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-South Boston has announced that he will ask the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct air quality tests in the surrounding neighborhoods of North Weymouth where Spectra Energy has proposed the placement of a natural gas compressor station.
The community has fought the installation of the station, The Patriot Ledger reports, because they are concerned about the reduced air quality and possible benzene pollution. Lynch advised the reason for the request is to compare the air samples to those gathered by an independent monitoring group opposing the compressor. The group claims they have detected benzene and other pollutant levels at well over federal standards.
When the group’s tests of 10 specific sites showed twice as much benzene as the most polluted parts of Boston, Lynch was surprised.
“This is not what we expected,” he said during a visit to one of the test sites in East Braintree, The Patriot Ledger reported. “This is different.”
In North Weymouth, some test sites showed a level of toluene, a solvent often found in paint thinner, at 100 times EPA’s standard, according to The Patriot Ledger.
The groups who oppose the compressor station claim that Spectra didn’t account for already-existing air pollution when it submitted its own air-quality report advising that at least 10 carcinogens, including benzene, would be emitted from the 7,700-horsepower compressor station.
The site of the proposed compressor station is located on the Fore River on a point of land at the Fore River Bridge.
Dr. Curtis Nordgaard, a pediatrician from Newton who has been assisting the opposing groups with the air tests, said Citgo petroleum terminal, Calpine power plant, and boat and vehicle traffic are most likely the to blame for the current benzene pollution.
Benzene is a carcinogen that has been linked to the developments of serious illnesses such as leukemias and lymphomas. According to the American Cancer Society, it is an official contributor of acute myeloid leukemia (AML).