Compressor’s health study panned at public meeting

About 120 skeptical citizens, including four QCAN members, packed the cafeteria of Quincy High School on the snowy night of November 15, 2018. They were there to hear officials from the state health and environmental protection departments and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council unveil the first results of a study predicting the effects of the proposed Fore River Compressor Station on public health in Quincy, Weymouth, Braintree, and beyond. The station is intended to increase the capacity of a system of natural-gas pipelines stretching from New Jersey to Nova Scotia. The station would be powered by a natural-gas fired engine that would produce exhaust.

During Q&A sessions audience members faulted the study on numerous grounds. “The most frequent complaint,” reports Martha Plotkin, a QCAN member who attended, “was the lack of independent data on the level of pollutants the station would likely be pumping out. The study instead relied on figures provided by Enbridge, the very same outfit that’s proposing to build the compressor station. How can you have any faith in that?”

Another attendee pointed out that threats from climate change and sea level rise were not taken into account in the study’s assessment of land use. The land on which the compressor would sit was created out of landfill and is already suffering the effects of erosion, he maintained.

Audience members also criticized the study’s failure to consider the effects of an accident and to analyze likely methane emissions, which would exacerbate not only asthma and other lung diseases but also climate change.

Attendees further pointed out that the compressor wouldn’t serve local interests because the state doesn’t need more natural gas, a view confirmed by an independent study sponsored by the state Attorney General Maura Healy.