WEYMOUTH, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Hundreds of protesters rallied in Weymouth Wednesday morning to oppose the construction of a compressor station by the Fore River Bridge.
The group Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station, or FRRACS, said Canada-based company Enbridge is building the station on highly toxic soil.
Alice Arena, the group's leader, told WBZ NewsRadio's Suzanne Sausville that the state Department of Environmental Protection granted Enbridge the permits it needs to start digging, but that the soil is contaminated with things like asbestos and arsenic.
The state did agree to a health impact assessment, but Arena called that assessment "a joke."
"The assessment was refuted by pretty much everybody, including the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility," she said.
The group is fighting the compressor in court, but BU Professor Dr. Nathan Philips said he hopes the project will fall apart on its own.
"The finances for this project are extremely shaky," he said. "This is a financial house of cards, and we think that, with increased pressure, this thing could collapse."
To Dr. Philips, the compressor situation poses a serious health risk for those in the area.
"This is an environmental justice community that's already overburdened with toxic, and they want to build this new toxic compressor station, which is going to increase cancer risk for 3,100 kids that live within a mile of this site," he said.
In a statement, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Ed Coletta said the MassDEP is "committed to ensuring that activities at the site of a compressor station in Weymouth meet all state environmental requirements."
"MassDEP has installed a temporary air monitoring station in the Fore River area, which is now gathering data while work continues to site and install a permanent station, and the Department continues to provide oversight of the assessment and cleanup activities," the statement read.
Enbridge spokesperson Max Bergeron said that the station's construction would go forward safely, "with public health and safety as our priority."
"The Weymouth Compressor Station will be operated and maintained to meet or exceed applicable safety and environmental standards and regulations," Bergeron wrote. "The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection strictly regulates compressor station emissions."
But Arena said the compressor station does not belong there.
"The regulations citing something that is not water dependent are clear," she said. "If it is not water dependent, I don't care if it's a hot dog stand, you can't put it in a designated port area."
As for the morning protest?
"We're not calling it a protest anymore, we're calling it a protect," she said. "We are not protesters, we are protectors."
WBZ NewsRadio's Suzanne Sausville (@wbzSausville) reports