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.
The petitioners testimony (FRRACS, Weymouth, and Braintree) was originally due on Tuesday but was extended to Thursday. That allowed our expert witness less than one week to review the data, compare it previous reports, and prepare new testimony.
Algonquin had until today, May 28, to respond to our testimony. An attorney for Enbridge, Ralph Child (who used to work for DEP), stated that “Any stay or other delay in this proceeding would be extremely unfair and prejudicial to Algonquin, particularly where it had no involvement in the planning, obtaining or reporting of (air-quality data)”. We think it’s unfair that the DEP withholds vital, relevant info from the community. It’s unfair that the DEP waits until the night before the conclusion of our hearing to release a 700+ document. And lastly, it’s unfair that Enbridge is forcing a toxic facility down our throats for their own benefit.
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
Excerpt: “Lawyers for the natural gas company that wants to build a compressor station on the banks of the Fore River say new air-quality data released by the state halfway through an appeal hearing should not delay the issuance of an air permit for the project.
Ralph Child, a lawyer representing Algonquin Gas Transmission, said in a response filed Tuesday with the state Department of Environmental Protection that there is no reason to extend the timeline for reaching a final decision on the permit, which is due by June 28 under a court order.
“Any stay or other delay in this proceeding would be extremely unfair and prejudicial to Algonquin, particularly where it had no involvement in the planning, obtaining or reporting of (air-quality data),” Child wrote.
State environmental regulators released hundreds of pages of additional air-quality testing data from the Fore River Basin on May 16, several days after they received it and two days into an appeal hearing on the air-quality permit. Experts, residents and officials opposed to the 7,700-horsepower natural gas compressor say the new data show existing pollution levels are higher than state officials previously acknowledged.
Nine South Shore legislators last week sent a letter to hearing officer Jane Rothchild requesting that she reject the air-quality plan and force Spectra Energy-Enbridge, the parent company of Algonquin Gas Transmission, to resubmit a plan that incorporates all data.
But Child said 40 of the 64 volatile organic compounds reflected in the new data were included in earlier reports, and only one of the 24 unreported toxins measured at levels above recommended standards. The gas company included testimony from Christopher Long, a scientist at environmental consulting firm Gradient, who said only one compound, called “1,3-butadiene,” was above recommended limits, and only in four of 42 samples.
“The data simply do not support any contention that the additional results newly show a public health threat beyond what the petitioners have already claimed,” he wrote.
The state issued an air-quality permit for the compressor station on Jan. 11, a week after the Metropolitan Area Planning Council released a health-impact assessment that found the compressor station would be unlikely to affect health and noise in the area.
Gov. Charlie Baker ordered the study in July 2017 amid strong local opposition from officials and residents who said the plant would vent pollution and toxic gases and that it could explode in the densely populated neighborhood.” (The Patriot Ledger, 2019)