Councilors willing to sue to keep high-pressure natural-gas facility away from city's only active quarry

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.

Neighborhoods: 

Topics: 

Free tagging: 

Ad:

Comments

Warren, Markey and Lynch put their position in a letter to FERC

Sens. Markey and Warren, and Rep. Lynch expressed their concerns in letter about West Roxbury Lateral gas pipeline directly to FERC:

brookline.wickedlocal.com:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Edward J. Markey and Congressman Stephen F. Lynch wrote the following in a letter sent on Jan. 29 to Cheryl A. LaFleur, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, regarding the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Project:

We are writing to you regarding a portion of the proposed Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Project that would expand natural gas pipeline facilities in Massachusetts communities we represent - the Town of Westwood, the Town of Dedham, and the neighborhood of West Roxbury in the City of Boston.

up
Voting is closed. 0

West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline - City Council Resolution

By on

So far, Warren and Markey have remained silent. They did say that they have concerns about the safety of the neighborhood but they have not met with their constituents and they have not been willing to speak out at the federal level. We are hopeful that they will become more pro-active. Please reach out to them to find out what it will take to have them take a stand.

up
Voting is closed. 0

When are any of them going to

By on

When are any of them going to acknowledge the city has a natural gas supply shortage to begin with?

So much is leaking out of old pipes around the city that pressure is lower than it should be in some neighborhoods.

All the new developments around the city increasing demand and the incentives to switch away from fuel oil heating are making it even worse during peak demand.

up
Voting is closed. 0

choosing energy for the future

Gas leaks have to be fixed for many reasons;

  • they're a waste of energy
  • they can lead to explosions
  • natural gas is more far more harmful than CO2 with respect to climate change, by a large factor ~80x IIRC
  • under current law, customers pay for leaked gas not the gas company

There's a bill in the legislature to give the gas company an incentive to fix the leaks across Massachusetts, make them pay for the gas leaked from their leaky pipes.

Natural gas was pitched as a bridge fuel to a sustainable renewable energy policy. As soon as customers are put on the hook for spending billions in new pipeline infrastructure, natural gas is not longer a 'bridge fuel' it is the energy in which we choose to invest in for the future.

scientificamerican:

Boston's Got a Gas Problem as Methane Seeps from City: Boston's leaky infrastructure for transporting natural gas is a big climate problem

Cities have a giant greenhouse gas footprint and are responsible for 70 percent of all global CO2 emissions.

The stink gives it away. Spend half a day walking the streets of New York, Los Angeles or Boston and the occasional whiff of rotten eggs makes it clear that natural gas is leaking from somewhere.

Just as oil and natural gas fields have been found to be emitting more methane than official government estimates suggest, a new study shows that more methane than previously thought may be leaking from the other end of that system—cities, where people actually use natural gas for heating and cooking.

Cities have a giant greenhouse gas footprint and are responsible for 70 percent of all global CO2 emissions, according to NASA. Urban areas and their aging natural gas pipes and valves are also responsible for a lot of methane emissions, which is about 35 times as potent as a greenhouse gas over the span of 100 years and makes up about 10 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in terms of CO2 equivalents.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Gassed out

By on

I have an idea. No new gas services in the City and disconnect all public building from natural gas. Surely the public buildings will survive on wind and solar power.

up
Voting is closed. 0

This "debate" reminds me of a memorable

By on

line from Yes Minister.

And why do you believe that the more inexpert you are, the more likely you are to be right?

(from the episode The Greasy Pole, where it was proposed to increase production at a chemical plant).

Translation - It's been studied already and a decision rendered! If the community and the City Council don't agree with a decision that has been based on experience of experts in the natural gas field, then perhaps you should commission your own study in rebuttal. But no, let's waste everybody's time and needlessly expend taxpayer money because lawyers have brainwashed society into believing that SUING it the only way to resolve non-issues like this one.

Alternately, perhaps everyone who disagrees with a plan to provide more natural gas to the area should agree to disconnect their houses from the gas service. That would also address the supply shortage.

up
Voting is closed. 0

It's the placement

of the pipeline that is the issue. It's not whether to have a pipeline. One of the documents I read months ago had an alternate route that was next to 128/95, not through a neighborhood adjacent to a quarry.

I'm no more of an expert than anyone here, but when the company says that it's no problem to have the pipeline next to a blasting site, I have doubts. Spend a little more money and put it where there are no obvious impediments. It's not like the gas company doesn't have the funds to do this.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Yes, I understand the principal issue here

By on

is the location of the pipeline. However, as I stated , if you don't like the location - which has been reviewed by the Federal Government, then commission your own study if you don't trust the company's (or the Government's) findings that there is the hazard posed by the pipeline is insignificant, instead of blindly stating "It's running next to a quarry, so it's automatically going to blow up. Therefore, we must SUE the company because we don't want this".

And I'm curious here. If the intent of the pipeline and the distribution station is to provide greater gas capacity into Boston itself, how does routing it along I-95 (MA 128) serve that intended purpose?

Plus I find it very odd that the neighborhood seems to have no issues with abutting a quarry where they do rock blasting all day long. If I lived there, that would cause me much greater concern for safety and "quality of life" than the (IMO relatively low) probability of a mega-explosion from a gas line.

up
Voting is closed. 0

you are right ROADMAN. We

By on

you are right ROADMAN. We should place all our trust in the studies of a for profit organization in an industry infamous for companies using their deep pockets to sway government decisions.

up
Voting is closed. 0

The community has been thwarted in doing a study

By on

Here's the first part of a recent email from West Roxbury Saves Energy, a community group that has put in an incredible amount of time and energy on this issue:

"In my last update I told you that we had unexpectedly been offered funding on March 6 to hire a company to perform an independent health and safety review of the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline, something we have been seeking from the city and state for many months with no cooperation. I realize now, after contacting more than 20 companies since then, that I was naive to believe any company would be willing to take on this job in light of the vast amount of money Spectra spends hiring the very engineering companies who do these studies. Our request was declined by every one that is largest enough to perform these reviews on the basis of conflict of interest with Spectra/Algonquin or National Grid. A couple of these companies actually then went to some lengths to put us in touch with others they thought would not have a conflict, and even these additional companies all declined. We went as far afield as speaking with a CEO in Denmark Thursday morning, and even he ultimately declined to assist our community by doing a review (turns out one of their offices is in Houston)."

up
Voting is closed. 0

I didn't write

What you quoted. I don't live there but I wanted to make the point that there are alternate routes for the pipeline.

It would go up 128/95 and bear off to the east to its destination along roads not running by a quarry. You seem to have read less about this than I have.

Why do people live there? The quarry probably predates the residents so I assume people live there because that's what they can afford or what they want to spend. The issue here is not about the quarry but about the gas pipeline.

Does everyone automatically trust the opinion of a government review? I don't automatically distrust it, but don't automatically trust it either.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Want results?

Commission your own study.

It's amazing: When people pay someone to study a problem the "researchers" are going to find "evidence" which supports the viewpoint of those paying for study. This is why these private studies aren't worth much. You'll never hear a community group come out and say they were opposed to a plan, paid for a private study, then decided to support the plan after the study found their fears unfounded.

This is why independent studies paid for by the government are important. This isn't to say these can't be bias as well but you can be assured when an action group pays for research that research is only going to support their position. (Or not be published.)

It would almost seems like the owners of the quarry are hoping to make a cash windfall when they are purchased by the pipeline company just to make the problem, real or not, go away.

up
Voting is closed. 0

Actually, the neighborhood

By on

Actually, the neighborhood has had many issues with the quarry and its blasting over the years. I live in the area and deal with the cracks in the ceilings and walls of my house to which the ground movement contributes. We basically have mini earthquakes when the quarry blasts. They don't blast "all day long" but maybe once a day. However, I feel that the quarry was here first, long before most houses in the area, and I knew what to expect having grown up near the quarry. I live in this area because it's a great family neighborhood with wonderful people.

It doesn't make sense to add more gas to the system when there are still so many leaks in the local pipelines. It's like trying to fill up a bathtub with the drain open. Adding a pipeline that is under high pressure and a metering station right next to the "epicenter" of our mini quakes does not make any sense whatsoever. While there may be a need for more gas, the high pressure pipeline could be relocated to another area that doesn't experience the ground shaking on a regular basis. Why take the risk - even if it is a small one - by placing the high pressure line & metering station where the ground around it will be shaking? Sure, nothing may happen right away but can you guarantee that the ground shaking absolutely won't affect the pipeline throughout the years?

up
Voting is closed. 0

Is this pipeline somehow

By on

Is this pipeline somehow different and riskier than the existing gas supply network all over eastern Massachusetts?

up
Voting is closed. 0

Not the pipeline

By on

The fact it is passing an active quarry is the issue.

I'd love to tell the people of West Roxbury to pound sand, but the whole idea of putting a high pressure pipeline and facility across the street from a quarry does give me pause. I support the idea of a new pipeline, since we need more supply in the region, but the location is the point.

up
Voting is closed. 0

But does the neighborhood

By on

But does the neighborhood already have gas service?

Or is this a major high-pressure line, of which there are only a few?

up
Voting is closed. 0

Yes, neighborhood already has gas service

By on

This is an all new high-pressure main whose purpose is to help National Grid better regulate the pressure throughout its distribution system in the region, not to provide gas service along Grove Street.

The gas will come into the metering station at Grove and Centre at 750 psi and be stepped down to 100 psi as it enters the National Grid network. The typical house is fed at 0.25 PSI or so.

up
Voting is closed. 0