Mass. Lawmakers Urge Shutdown of Weymouth Compressor Station

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Lawmakers in Massachusetts are calling for the immediate halt of activities at the Weymouth compressor station, after an incident last month that caused an emergency shutdown.

Workers had to trigger the shutdown on Friday, September 11th due to a gasket failure. Within two weeks, operators got the go-ahead from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to put the station "into service" on Thursday, October 1st.

On Wednesday, Congressman Stephen Lynch said he just learned of the incident, and said the Weymouth compressor station needs to go into a temporary emergency shutdown.

"I was just notified that the Weymouth Compressor Station had yet another dangerous blowout event this morning involving the deployment of the compressor station's Emergency Shutdown System, and given that it is the second incident this month they are currently in the process of ordering a temporary emergency shutdown of the station," said Lynch.

Rep. Lynch said he has already asked the Secretary of Transportation to suspend the opening of the compressor station pending a comprehensive review, and he is now demanding the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) revoke the certificate of approval for the site and suspend operations due to the repetitive occurrence of these extremely dangerous events.

Lynch also said he was was "extremely concerned" for the public's safety, and he has asked for a PHMSA official to accompany him on a was through the site later this week.

"While additional details on this latest safety incident are still under investigation, these accidents endangered the lives of local residents and are indicative of a much larger threat that the Weymouth Compressor Station poses to Weymouth, Quincy, Abington and Braintree residents, as well as surrounding communities, by operating in such a densely residential area," said Lynch.

Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren also sent a letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA,) urging it to suspend activities at the station and conduct an investigation into the recent unplanned gas release.

"An emergency leak is unacceptable, and we ask that you fulfill your responsibility and conduct an investigation into this issue to protect public safety,” wrote the Senators. “Instead of allowing Enbridge to operationalize the Weymouth compression station by October 1, 2020—so soon after an emergency shutdown and gas leak—PHMSA should ensure that the health and safety of site workers and the Fore River community are protected.”

The Senators said the quantity of natural gas released during the gas leak emergency was "equivalent to the average daily natural gas consumption of more than 930 Massachusetts homes," which, when vented at ground level, could have possibly been ignited by a spark from a passing vehicle and caused a fire or an explosion.

According to WBZ-TV, it was not immediately clear if Enbridge, the company behind the Weymouth station, would begin gas service to Maine and Canada on or before October 1.

“Following a thorough and inclusive review process by federal and state agencies which began in January 2015, we are pleased to move forward with placing this important facility in service ahead of the upcoming winter heating season,” Enbridge spokesperson Max Bergeron wrote in an email. “The Weymouth Compressor Station will enable three local gas utilities in Maine and one in Canada to benefit from additional access to natural gas, helping homes and businesses switch from higher-emitting fuels to cleaner-burning natural gas.”

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(Photo: Getty Images)

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