The City Council today unanimously called on the Boston Public Health Commission to study the possible ramifications of a proposed gas pipeline down Grove Street in West Roxbury and a proposed "metering and regulating station" for the pipeline right across the street from the West Roxbury Crushed Stone quarry, which still uses dynamite to dislodge the boulders it crushes.
The motion passed by the council also urges city departments to withhold any required local permits - for example, for opening up Grove Street to install the trench the pipe will sit in - until the study is done.
But City Councilor Matt O'Malley (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain), who proposed the motion, said he has a simpler goal: Stop the project altogether. "The potential risks are far too great to do otherwise," he said, adding he is prepared to look into a lawsuit if necessary to try to block the project.
"We're all of the mind that we're going to do whatever we can to stop it," agreed at-large City Councilor Steve Murphy.
In March, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commisison approved the $95-million, four-mile pipeline from Westwood to the metering station in West Roxbury, where the gas pressure would be stepped down from 750 pounds per square inch to 100 PSI for National Grid's Boston-area distribution system. The typical house is fed with pressure of 0.5 PSI or less.
Before meeting with city attorneys to draft a possible lawsuit, however, O'Malley said, he and other councilors, Mayor Walsh, US Rep. Stephen Lynch, state Sen. Mike Rush and state Rep. Ed Coppinger will wait to see whether the federal commission will grant their request for a re-hearing on the pipeline. The local elected officials cited safety concerns over running the pipeline under a busy road in a densely populated neighborhood and building a high-pressure facility 100 feet from the entrance to an active quarry.
Murphy said local and state officials have offered alternative sites for the metering station - including the grounds of the nearby VA Hospital - to move it away from the residences along Grove Street, but that Spectra has refused to budge.
Murphy was his usual blunt self. "What's going on out there is absolute lunacy," he said. "100 feet from a blast zone just doesn't make any sense at all. And don't get Murphy started on the suburban owner of the quarry, who agreed to sell the vacant lot Spectra Energy needs to construction its metering station. "He's just not a good guy," he said.
"It's a colossal mistake in the making, in a densely populated neighborhood," at-large Councilor Michael Flaherty said.
At-large Councilor Michelle Wu said she is troubled that the studies cited by the feds in approving the project were all done by the gas company.
Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury) added: "Roxbury stands with West Roxbury on this."
"Putting dynamite next to gas is probably not the smartest public policy," he said.