Concerns about benzene and other pollutants harmful to human health have prompted residents of a North Weymouth, Massachusetts, community to work with environmental advocates and legislators in stalling and potentially preventing Enbridge’s planned construction of a 7,700-horsepower compressor station near the Fore River Bridge.
Air quality tests conducted by two independent labs over the spring found levels of benzene in the air that exceeded the Department of Environmental Protection’s safety limits, even without the presence of a new facility that will emit even more air pollution.
Benzene is a known human carcinogen that has been linked to the development of acute lymphocytic leukemia in children, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and other types of blood cancer such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma in adults.
The same air tests also picked up on excessive levels of methylene chloride, 1.2 dichloropropane, 2-hexaanone, alkanes, hexane, acetone, and ethanol, each of which carries its own health risks.
Residents of neighborhoods near the heavily industrialized Fore River Basin can use all the help they can get in squaring off against the plans of a giant energy corporation, and fortunately they have found a lot of help in Boston-area pediatrician Curtis L. Nordgaard, neighborhood watchdog group Fore River Residents Against the Compressor, Weymouth District 1 Councilor Rebecca Haugh, Congressman Stephen Lynch, D-South Boston, Governor Charlie Baker, and others.
According to Wicked Local Braintree, “Compressor opponents say Dallas-based Spectra Energy, which proposed the compressor facility before Enbridge purchased the firm, failed to account for benzene and other pollutants already in the area’s air when it produced its own air-quality report.”
Spectra also identified at least 10 carcinogenic chemicals that the proposed compressor station would emit, Wicked Local reported.
Now, armed with the earlier test results and the concerns of his constituents, Rep. Lynch said he will request that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conduct comparison testing.
“As local families remain concerned about the proposed Weymouth Compressor Station, it is critical that we have all the facts about potential risks to the environment, public health, and public safety, Rep. Lynch said in a written statement. “I have been in contact with Governor Baker about this issue and will continue to consult the Governor as well as our local elected officials moving forward. The health and well-being of area families are of the utmost importance,”
Meanwhile, Gov. Baker “has directed state agencies to conduct a public safety review, an air quality assessment and a flood risk evaluation of the proposed compressor station site before any permits are issued for the facility,” according to Wicked Local.