Community Meeting: Data demonstrate violations of MassDEP guidelines for toxic air pollutants

Recap: Community Meeting on Air Quality Data

On Tuesday night, Dr. Curt Nordgaard presented data on the air quality near the proposed compressor site. To better understand current levels of air pollution in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), FRRACS worked with GeoLabs/Phoenix Environmental Labs, a local testing laboratory using EPA-approved testing methods to gather data in and around the Fore River Basin. FRRACS and the North Weymouth Civic Association also purchased formaldehyde testing badges. The analyses for the VOC canister tests and the formaldehyde badge testing were completed at GeoLabs/Phoenix Environmental Labs and Advanced Chemical Sensors, which are both certified laboratories. FRRACS received grant funding from the Island Foundation to pay for the testing.

We were joined by community allies from across the state, many of who are fighting similar fossil fuel infrastructure projects. Local and state reps, including State Sen. O'Connor, Councilor TJ Lacey, Rep. Bruce Ayers, Councilor Margaret Laforest, and reps from Congressman Stephen Lynch's office and Senator Keenan's office, were in attendance. 

We did try to live stream the event, but ran into some technical difficulties. Videos of the presentation are on our facebook, but are separated into multiple videos. Apologies for this.

Read The Patriot Ledger's recap of the meeting here.

Below is a recap of some of the data Dr. Nordgaard presented:


Findings presented:

  • Violations of MassDEP guidelines for 8 toxic air pollutants, including some that can cause cancer. The 8 air pollutants are: Benzene, Methylene Chloride, 1 ,2 Dichloropropane, 2-hexanone, Total alkanes and hexane, Acetone, Ethanol, and Butanone. 
  • Benzene, a volatile organic compound (VOC), found in gasoline, oil, and natural gas, as well as exhaust from burning these fuels, was measured at concentrations that were more than 4 times the state's guideline. Benzene can cause anemia, headaches, leukemia, and more.
  • Spectra's draft air pollution permit states that the station will not cause benzene concentrations to exceed 0.124 parts per billion (ppb) in 24 hours. The state's 24-hour guideline for benzene is 0.2 ppb. The data analyzed GeoLabs/Phoenix Environmental Labs measured benzene around the Fore River at 0.883 ppb in 24 hours, or nearly 7 times what Spectra and the state claim would happen, if the station were built. 
  • Spectra's draft air pollution permit also states that formaldehyde will not exceed 0.31 parts per billion (ppb) in 24 hours. The data analyzed by Advanced Chemical Sensors measured formaldehyde at the proposed site at 1 ppb, or more than 3 times what Spectra and the state claim would happen, if the station were built.

The data demonstrate violations of MassDEP guidelines for 8 toxic air pollutants, including some that can cause cancer. The 8 toxic air pollutants of concern are: Benzene, Methylene Chloride, 1 ,2 Dichloropropane, 2-hexanone, Total alkanes and hexane, Acetone, Ethanol, and Butanone.

Air Pollutants Presentation - available in PDF below:

Summary of the testing and results - available in PDF below:

 Handout

Handout