For Immediate Release: FRRACS claims Baker's DEP further "bungles" data analysis and children's health

For Immediate Release: FRRACS claims Baker's DEP further “bungles” data analysis and children's health

Contact: Alice Arena, nocompressor@gmail.com

FRRACS will be holding a press conference today at 12:30pm at MassDEP in Boston (1 Winter Street)

In July of 2017, Governor Baker called for a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) in the Fore River Basin to give the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) necessary information before the approval of the Air Quality Plan submitted by Algonquin (Spectra-Enbridge). A full eleven months later, the Baker Administration underfunded the HIA and gave the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the DEP, and the Department of Public Health (DPH) only six months to complete a report that should have taken eighteen to twenty four months. Additionally, the DEP undertook air quality testing of a scientifically insignificant time frame in order to check for the levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other pollutants in the atmosphere of the Basin to solidify the findings of the HIA.

In the course of air quality testing, Governor Baker's DEP failed to ask the testing laboratories for all of the pertinent information on air toxins present in the Basin. Due to this lack of reporting requested from the laboratories and due to the DEP's failure to include testing results gathered from canisters sent outside of the state (Rhode Island State Laboratories), the information in the HIA was incomplete and of questionable value. Had the DEP requested the crucial reports from Alpha Laboratories or had they requested the reports from Rhode Island in a timely fashion, the information of the unquestionable existence of toxins such as 1,3 butadiene, acetaldehyde, and carbon disulfide many times over the DEP guidelines for both the Ambient Air Limit (AAL) and Threshold Effects Exposure Limit (TEL) would have been confirmed.

Instead, the DEP chose to hide information that was clearly available to them even as late as April 2019. Fully two days into a three day appeal, a 759 page report was dropped on the petitioners during the air quality appeal by the DEP. This past Friday at around noon, the DEP dropped another short analysis of these 759 pages just a half day before the reopened hearing was to begin. Their conclusion was that the information in the new report was of no significant value even though toxins like 1,3 butadiene were consistently 1.8X over the AAL. The DEP's analysis did not use their own regulations of averaging pollutants over time, but instead dismissed the findings by stating that only four canisters out of 42 showed 1,3 butadiene over the AAL. However, they included the control canisters from the Hingham location, and they did not discuss the fact that the four canisters in question were so far over the AAL for the testing period as to garner the 1.8X over guidelines if averaged.

Comparing an area like Weymouth that Algonquin claims is "rural" with cities such as Boston and Lynn and dismissing the concentration of toxins over the AALs and TELs (benzene, formaldehyde, etc.) as being what would be found in an urban setting precludes the possibility of the DEP acting as it should to clean up the air quality in the Basin rather than subject the citizens of the area to more toxic overload. It also precludes the DEP from improving the air quality in Boston and Lynn. Using the excuse that what's good for the goose is good for the gander in this situation is nothing short of total abdication of duty on the part of the agency.

Governor Baker's DEP has failed to protect the citizens of the Basin and of the Commonwealth. Being in complete regulatory capture, they have "bungled" the air quality reporting, the Health Impact Assessment, and, in the finality, our children's health.

The Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station calls on the DEP to stop undermining the efforts of the citizens to protect the Basin and to start serving the residents of Weymouth, Braintree, Quincy, Hingham, and the State of Massachusetts.

Itai Vardi reports on Baker’s ties to the fossil fuel industry

Itai Vardi reports on Baker’s ties to the fossil fuel industry

Governor Baker is the only elected official who has refused to speak out against the dangerous compressor station proposal. Why? Likely because he has ties to the fossil fuel industry. Investigative journalist Itai Vardi has a new piece in Desmogblog, uncovering investments that Baker has in the fossil fuel industry. You can read more here: Desmog - As Natural Gas Infrastructure Decisions Loom, Massachusetts Gov. Baker Invests in Fossil Fuel Companies

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AG Maura Healey says DEP 'bungled' air quality data

AG Maura Healey says DEP 'bungled' air quality data

Attorney General Maura Healey stopped by WGBH today and addressed some questions related to the compressor station. This was unexpected but it was great to have her speaking about the issue. In response to the DEP’s dump of a new, 759-page report on the second to last day of our air quality hearing, she said that the DEP ‘“really bungled" air quality testing“‘, and noted that she hasn’t been able to take a position on the issue but acknowledged that ‘“we've been watching this and monitoring the situation”’. You can read more about Attorney General Healey’s comments here: State House News Service - AFTERNOON BRIEFS: "REALLY BUNGLED" | NEW ROTHCHILD ORDER | INCOME SURTAX

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Update: DEP Presiding Officer Grants Extension to Air Quality Hearing

Update: DEP Presiding Officer Grants Extension to Air Quality Hearing

 DEP Presiding Officer Grants Extension to Air Quality Plan Approval Hearing

 Weymouth, Mass. (May 30, 2019) - Today, DEP presiding officer Jane Rothchild granted an extension to the petitioners (FRRACS, the Towns of Weymouth, Braintree, and Hingham, the City of Quincy, and the Hingham 10-residents group) in the appeal against the issuance of the air quality plan approval to Algonquin/Spectra/Enbridge for the Weymouth compressor station. The hearing has been scheduled for Monday, June 10 from 9 am-1 pm, and if necessary, on Tuesday, June 11 from 12-5 pm. This was the correct action for the DEP to take. FRRACS thanks Ms. Rothchild for allowing the information withheld by the DEP to be entered into the testimonies of this case and for allowing the further discussion of the toxicity that is present in the Basin into the appeals process.

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Enbridge submits response to DEP data dump

Enbridge submits response to DEP data dump

In the evening of May 16, DEP released a 759-page report of new/updated air quality data from sampling that was collected in July 2018. This report was released the night before our air quality appeal hearing was scheduled to conclude. On Friday, May 16, our attorney brought DEP’s data dump to the attention of Presiding Officer Jane Rothchild. Ms. Rothchild was unaware of the release of the new report. She was not pleased with DEP’s 11th hour move. She made the decision to allow all of the parties extra time to review the new report, to determine if the hearing should be extended to allow for further testimony.

Algonquin had until today, May 28, to respond to our testimony. The Patriot Ledger reported on Enbridge’s response to our testimony and the DEP’s data dump. You can read it here: Gas company wants compressor appeal to go forward

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Legislators urge DEP to revoke air quality plan approval

Legislators urge DEP to revoke air quality plan approval

We are very fortunate to have local elected officials who staunchly support our efforts to stop the project. South Shore legislators are now calling on the DEP to revoke their approval of Enbridge’s air quality plan approval (often referred to as an air quality permit), in light of the new air quality data that show the presence of many toxic pollutants in the Basin, some above state guidelines. You can read more about their new demand here: Weymouth News - Lawmakers urge DEP to revoke Weymouth compressor permit

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Safety meeting with PHMSA scheduled for June 17

Safety meeting with PHMSA scheduled for June 17

PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) has agreed to host a listening session in Weymouth on June 17. This will be an important meeting, so we need to pack the room. The meeting will present community members with a space to raise their concerns and to ask questions. We encourage you to attend the event! Come with your questions and concerns. Many thanks to Congressman Lynch for making this meeting happen. We’re fortunate to have local reps who advocate for us.

You can read more about the meeting here: The Patriot Ledger - Hearing on compressor station safety set for June 17

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MassDEP Hearing on Waste Site Cleanup Revisions

Representing Weymouth at the MassDEP hearing on proposed revisions to regulations about the who, what, where, why, and how of cleaning up toxics in our environment.

Representing Weymouth at the MassDEP hearing on proposed revisions to regulations about the who, what, where, why, and how of cleaning up toxics in our environment.

MassDEP has prepared revisions to their Massachusetts Contingency Plan ("MCP", 310 CMR 40.0000). The MCP relates to regulations governing the notification, assessment, cleanup and closure of oil and hazardous material disposal sites. You can read their proposed revisions here.

They held a public hearing today, May 23, to solicit input and comments on the proposed changes. FRRACS members attended and provided written and oral testimony. You can watch a video of the testimonies here.

Submit a public comment!

Comments can be submitted by email to bwsc.information@mass.gov or by mail to: Elizabeth Callahan, MassDEP, One Winter Street, Boston, 02108. The public comment period ends July 19, 2019. We need to make sure that the regulations are strengthened. Based on their current proposal, they intend to allow MORE pollution.  This is not acceptable.

More info here: https://www.mass.gov/lists/2019-proposed-mcp-revisions

Investigative reporting reveals MassDEP withheld data and now permit is in jeapardy

Investigative reporting reveals MassDEP withheld data and now permit is in jeapardy

Last week, MassDEP released a new set of air quality data in the middle of our appeal hearing of Enbridge’s air quality quality plan approval. MassDEP released the new, 750+ page report the night before the hearing was scheduled to conclude. It was a really shocking event. MassDEP claimed that they received the report from the laboratory three days before (Monday, May 13) but waited until Thursday to send it out.

Itai Vardi covered DEP’s recent data dump in Desmog and how it connects to previous reporting. You can read it here: After DeSmog’s Revelations, Enbridge’s Weymouth Gas Facility Air Permit in Jeopardy.

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Presiding Officer grants 2-day extension for review of new AQ data

Presiding Officer grants 2-day extension for review of new AQ data

DEP Presiding Officer announced today she will grant an extension to our review of the new air quality data. We now have until this Thursday, May 23 at 5:00 PM to submit testimony on the 759-page report. We want to thank Presiding Officer Rothchild for granting the extension, and the Fore River Delegation for sending a letter yesterday requesting an extension. Our expert witnesses and legal team are diligently reviewing the documents and preparing their response.

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Presiding Officer threatens to place sanctions on DEP

Presiding Officer threatens to place sanctions on DEP

The past week has been a rollercoaster! It’s been just three days since the DEP dumped a new set of data on us. And today we learned that Presiding Officer Jane Rothchild is considering posing sanctions on the DEP in response to their unethical move. She states, “The Department’s delay in disclosing the data to the other parties to the appeal until after the close of business on May 16, 2019, is unacceptable and may warrant the imposition of sanctions against the Department pursuant to 310 CMR 1.01.” She has requested the Department reply to a set a questions by 5 PM tomorrow, May 22. The DEP must inform her of when they first received the data, who received the data, why they waited so long to send it, and did they share the data with Enbridge before sharing it with the petitioners.

You can read more here: Weymouth News - Air quality data for Enbridge questioned (link)

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GB PSR Call for Baker Governor Baker to Extend Air Quality Appeal

GB PSR Call for Baker Governor Baker to Extend Air Quality Appeal

Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility (GBPSR) released a press release today calling on Governor Baker to extend the air quality appeal for the Weymouth compressor station.

We can’t thank GB PSR enough for their advocacy on this issue. They continue to use their voice, expertise, and platform to fight for the health of our community. We are grateful to have their support. You can read their full press release here.

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