For Immediate Release: FRRACS claims Baker's DEP further “bungles” data analysis and children's health
Contact: Alice Arena, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.