Breaking: DEP releases new AQ data two days into hearing

Around 6 pm last night, the parties in the air quality permit appeal received an email from MassDEP about a new set of air quality data. The report was a whopping 759 pages. The email stated that they had received the data from the lab that they worked with — Alpha Analytical — on Monday evening, but were only sending it out to parties on Thursday. This was a shocking moment. The data are from air samples that were collected last summer, nearly 10 months ago. It just doesn’t make sense as to why they would only be sending it out now.

You can access the report here.

Our attorney, Michael Hayden, brought this up first thing this morning on Day 3 of our air quality appeal. Presiding Officer Jane Rothchild seemed really surprised by what she had just heard. She questioned DEP as to how and why this had happened. The DEP has known about his hearing for months now, so why are they only now sharing the data? The DEP claimed that they didn’t know that the data existed. Apparently, they contacted the lab to see if any data remained and the lab sent them the 759 page report. We find this a bit perplexing. When we send air quality samples to a lab, they send us the results within days, not months. We also don’t have to ask for the results. In return for the samples, the lab sends us results. Seems pretty straightforward. Regardless of what the DEP’s story is, what they did was extremely problematic.

Presiding Officer Rothchild then asked what the DEP suggests we should do to resolve this situation, considering the fact that we are currently in the hearing process and we have a panel of witnesses ready to testify. The DEP stated that they didn’t really think the new data set was relevant to the hearing. Imagine that. Air quality from Weymouth is not related to a hearing about air quality in Weymouth. Listening to DEP say this was really quite the scene. The Presiding Officer politely disagreed with the DEP’s stance. At this point, Ralph Child (Enbridge lawyer), stated the data wasn’t new. What? The DEP quietly spoke up and said, “yes, it actually is new data.” Attorney Child didn’t have a response.

It was eventually decided that we would continue with the hearing as scheduled but that the hearing would not conclude today, as originally scheduled. Ms. Rothchild stated that the petitioners (FRRACS) deserved an opportunity to review the report and that it was completely unacceptable to send it out as late as they did. Ms. Child agreed to give us until Tuesday at 5 pm to review the new document and submit rebuttal testimony. After the rebuttal is submitted, we will meet again to hear testimony on just that report alone.

People were reviewing the new data dump throughout the day and were quickly finding pollutants that were omitted from previous data reports and had *suddenly* appeared in this new report.

Investigate journalist Itai Vardi quickly found quite a few pollutants above guideline limits. He updated a thread on Twitter with his findings. You can read it here.

Some pollutants that have been found in this report but were missing from previous reports: 1,3-butadiene (carcinogen), chloromethane (possible carcinogen), 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene (associated w/respiratory problems), Freon-113, n-hexane, Trichlorofluoromethane, Vinyl acetate.

Itai reports that “The HIA report concluded that amongst the Tentatively Identified Compounds (TICS) the private lab found, only methanol was above state limits (and not 1,3-butadiene). But now the new data shows 1,3-butadiene was *also* above those levels.”

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Media Coverage


The Valley Dispatch - DEP introduces new air quality data in compressor case (link)