Public meeting: Tues, Jan. 6, 2015

Less than one month, and counting down, to stop this pipeline plan’s approval.

Spectra Energy recently insisted that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) give them full permission by Jan. 31, 2015 to go ahead with its present potentially lethal plan. We need Senators Warren and Markey to oppose this, and we need to expose FERC’s negligence through complicity with the gas industry. That will take most of you committing yourself to this fight and coming to the Jan. 6 meeting to organize the actions required.

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015 – 7 p.m.

Roche Family Community Center, 1716 Centre St., West Roxbury

Organized by SWRL

For more information, contact: stopwrlpipeline@gmail.com

Arguments against the WRL Pipeline

The following points by Dr. Karen L. Weber were sent to Sen. Warren’s office on Dec. 20.


1. The proposal by Spectra, as part of the Algonquin Incremental Market Pipeline, is to place a high-pressure fracked gas pipeline at the level of 750 psi in a densely populated residential neighborhood in West Roxbury, part of the City of Boston with a Metering & Regulation Station (M&R station) to connect this line to a lower pressure pipeline of 100 psi directly across (feet away) from an active quarry where earthquake like blasts occur several times a week.

2. Industry expert Mark McDonald, who travels across the US regularly to consult on pipeline safety, cannot understand why this line is proposed for this location. It is a transmission pipeline that is usually destined for uninhabited areas – under forests, deserts, etc. Because it is a transmission pipeline, the gas has no odorant. If someone were to dig and not know quite where the line was, they could damage the line, and there would be no smell to the gas indicating that there was a leak or problems with the line. You can see more from Mark’s PowerPoint presentation on his website.

3.The M&R station is a place of impending disaster. According to Mark, with less than a turn of a wrench, the station could explode due to the potential of the pressure of one pipeline leading into the other. If the wind were blowing the “wrong way,” this could lead to an explosion which could affect – in the worst case scenario – up to 40 city blocks. The location of this pipeline is only five miles away from the center of the City of Boston. It would be felt across the city. Four schools are on this pipeline route. One senior home. Hundreds of homes. Thousands of people.

4. The potential of a terrorist attack on the M&R station: It is easy to figure out how to commit such an attack from YouTube. However, it doesn’t need to go that far – teens playing around the area drinking beer and being rowdy could do it. The regular blasts from the quarry could cause it. The heavy traffic from the 300 dump trucks that go in and out of the quarry on a daily basis and cause a lot of vibration to the ground could cause it.

5. Once in, there will be a constant whooshing sound that the neighborhood will be subject to – a noise pollution more constant than living near an airport and hearing the planes take off. There will be no dig rights on people’s properties anywhere from 25-50 feet from the line. (Once the grant of easement is signed, Spectra Energy obtains access to the “right of way,” the corridor in which the pipeline is to be built. Typically, Spectra Energy will require a 50-foot-wide permanent right of way. Refer to Spectra’s website under “New Projects”.) This means that people will not be able to plant a tree, flowers, put up a shed, put in a pool, etc. Property values will plummet.

6. The people who live in this neighborhood are middle-class working citizens who are the police, firefighters, city employees, university employees, builders, nurses, caretakers and more in our city. They are scared out of their minds. They are scared for their children. Many have lived in their homes for generations. Others are new to the city or the area and proud to be in a nice community where they thought it was safe and could watch their kids grow up. Some moved recently from other parts of the city thinking this would give them access to better schools in the area.

7. The neighborhood is not that far from the main business district of West Roxbury where there are numerous banks, dentists and doctor offices, supermarkets, restaurants and shops.

8. This project is volatile from the outset and has no reason for even being considered. Worse yet, Spectra Energy has a horrific track record:

  • “Unlawful Conduct” – The Pennsylvania DEP has issued two Notices of Violation for the company’s “unlawful conduct.”
  • Fiery inferno – Spectra Energy’s underground gas storage reservoir outside of Houston (Moss Bluff) suffered catastrophic failure in 2004 with two explosions, 6 days of fire with flames as high as 1,000 feet and two evacuations. The company does not want to talk about it. The project manager at FERC told me they were not aware of this when they approved Spectra Energy’s proposal for the storage reservoir in Bedford County.
  • PCB Contamination – Spectra Energy acknowledges in its Form 10-K (filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Feb. 27, 2009) that, “some of our pipeline systems are contaminated with [toxic] PCBs.” The EPA has concluded that PCBs cause cancer in animals and are a probable human carcinogen.
  • Top Civil Penalty Ranking – Spectra Energy’s Texas Eastern pipeline division is tied for #7 on the EPA’s list of the 21 “Top Civil Penalty Cases of All Time” – the National Enforcement Trends (NETs) document which is on the EPA website. The $15 million penalty was for massive PCB contamination along the company’s 9,000-mile pipeline.

If you take the time to read through the Shale Property Rights blog, you will see CEO of Exxon Mobil Rex Tillerson filing suit about a water tower near his home. I cannot imagine that he would ever want to live in the WRL neighborhood of West Roxbury. I do not think Senator Warren is ready to take up residence there either, no matter how pretty it currently appears nor how safe it is at the moment.

9. This pipeline involves new technology and fast transmission of natural gas at high pressures. There is not enough experience with these pipelines to really know how long they will last, how easy it will be for them to break down. Is it one year, two years, ten years? There are little sweeping mechanisms inside the pipes to help push the gas through. There is more involvement of digital technology, with many parts and systems to track, and that can unravel. In sum, we do not know the true ROI on these pipelines and what could cause problems or lead to a break in the line. When gas leaks from this line, due to the fact that it is fracked gas, it contains radiation along with a large number of toxic chemicals that will contaminate the atmosphere including PCBs, methane, toluene, benzene, etc. Any health study done must also take into account these potential impacts.

10. Gleaned from the meeting with aides from the staff of Senators Warren and Markey: When we asked where the senators stood on the project, they claimed that they did not have enough information and asked for info from us. They had been to the proposed site, but had no comment about that experience. We are lay-people and do not have statistical answers. However, we have the resources of Mr. Mark McDonald, the experience of residents living with regular blasts from the quarry, and the understanding when looking at this project that it lacks fundamental common sense on all levels. We asked to establish a timetable given the urgency of the FERC process.

Finally, putting the whole pipeline into perspective: The state of Massachusetts bans fracking. It is hard to understand how it could condone the transit or use of fracked gas if it is opposed to fracking on our own soil. The pipeline itself is very much a mystery. The intricate link of money, power, greed and energy is tied into the larger picture which is the unraveling of these companies due to record low petroleum prices, causing the fracking operations to try to make good on their billion-dollar investments. Beyond the nightmarish portrait of what West Roxbury would face if the WRL were to be realized, there is a far greater nightmare unraveling across the US around fracking, pipelines and a race for energy that will take away Americans’ health, dignity and clean water when instead the investments could be made in truly clean energy, efficiency, plugging up gas leaks so we would not be losing so much of our energy resources and finding healthy safe ways of managing our cities and economy.

Community says ‘NO!’ to a dangerous high-pressure natural gas line, urges Sens. Markey and Warren to take a stand against it

Following a demonstration outside the Waltham offices of Houston-based Spectra Energy Thursday afternoon (Dec. 18, 2014), several West Roxbury residents and environmental group representatives met Friday with Boston staff for Senators Markey and Warren to protest Spectra’s proposed high pressure natural gas line through a densely settled neighborhood of West Roxbury and to urge the Senators to take action against the project.

“Time is of the essence,” stressed the representatives, with regard to the environmental review and review process now approaching a critical approval deadline with the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency that oversees and must approve Spectra’s plans.

Hoping for some expression of support after months of sharing information about the dangers associated with this pipeline plan, the group voiced frustration and dismay that neither Senator has yet indicated a position on the project or even addressed the community’s growing concerns directly. As the delegation pointed out, Mayor Walsh, Congressman Lynch and other public officials have already gone on record against the project with FERC, insisting on a different alignment.

Spectra is already well along in filing environmental impact statements in order to obtain official approval for the pipeline from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The West Roxbury Saves Energy group, which has been following the approval process closely, has faulted both Spectra and FERC for failing to provide accurate, relevant information to the community and to answer specific questions on a timely basis.

Thursday’s protest was the latest in a series of actions organized by the “Committee to Stop the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline,” a group of local residents. Alarmed when they learned of Spectra’s plans in October, the group organized a community meeting on Dec. 3 to alert other residents to the dangers posed by the gas proposed pipeline and to launch a protest campaign. Community officials and residents from neighboring Dedham have expressed similar concerns and supported the effort.

Of particular concern is the proposal for a “metering and regulating” (M&R) station (similar to an electric transformer) in a neighborhood near not only homes but also schools, a nursing home, and across the street from a quarry where blasting still takes place.

Addressing the December 3 meeting, nationally recognized natural gas safety expert (and local resident) Mark McDonald called the proposal irresponsible and detailed its dangers – primarily an explosion (which he said could be worse than the explosion and fire which destroyed an entire neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif. in 2010. McDonald emphasized that such facilities were intended for rural locations.

New video! (posted Dec. 20, 2014)

The following videos are on YouTube. Take a look at what’s happening!

Demonstration in Waltham on Dec. 18, 2014
West Roxbury resident Seamus Whelan and other neighbors and supporters speak out to Spectra Energy at a demonstration at their Waltham regional headquarters.

Why it’s important to oppose this pipeline
Seamus Whelan describes the nature and importance of the fight against Spectra Energy’s disastrous gas pipeline.

How can people be mobilized?
After meeting with staffers of Senators Warren and Markey on Dec. 19, 2014, concerned residents discussed amongst themselves to plan how to galvanize the community.

“Week of Respect and Resistance” in New England (Dec. 13-19, 2014)

FANG protest at Spectra Offices

FANG shuts down Spectra Offices in Waltham, Mass 12/18/2014

The “Week of Respect and Resistance” is a New England-wide campaign against Spectra Energy’s proposed expansion of the “Algonquin” gas pipeline (“Algonquin” Incremental Market Expansion, or AIM).

On Wed., 12/17, protesters shut down Spectra’s office in Waltham, Mass. blockading the entrance and playing music, while deploying a 24-foot-tall tripod and a balloon banner.

On Thurs., 12/18, there were two more actions in Massachusetts.

  • At noon in Waltham, local residents and representatives of several environmental organizations gathered at Spectra Energy’s New England Regional Headquarters at 890 Winter St to protest the Texas-based company’s plans to locate a high pressure natural gas line through a densely settled residential neighborhood. (See info about the proposed pipeline.) Organized by SWRL.
  • At 4 p.m. in Boston, activists were scheduled to perform “climate theater” outside the State Street Corporation at 1 Lincoln Street to debunk incorrect information about natural gas that has been disseminated by the fossil fuel industry. The aim of the “climate theater” is to expose State Street’s investments in Spectra Energy as a driver of climate change. Participants planned to meet at Chinatown Park at 3 p.m. with puppets and banners before heading to the plaza at the intersection of Essex and Lincoln. More info: Flood Boston or FANG.

On Fri., 12/19, SWRL members met with the staff of Senators Markey and Warren to urge them to join other elected leaders – notably Congressman Stephen Lynch and Mayor Marty Walsh – in opposing the West Roxbury proposal. The meeting was scheduled to be held in Sen. Warren’s office in the JFK Building in Boston with Sen. Warren’s staffer Chris Lange and Sen. Markey’s staffers Kayla Scire and David Brade.

Have you seen Mark McDonald’s Dec. 3, 2014 presentation?

Texas-based company Spectra Energy plans to locate a high-pressure natural gas pipeline through a densely settled Boston residential neighborhood and to place a metering station on the West Roxbury/Dedham border near a stone quarry where blasting occurs regularly. Boston says no!

The ad-hoc committee SWRL hosted a community meeting on Dec. 3, 2014 in West Roxbury to explain the potential impacts of this proposed pipeline and the threats it poses to our health and safety and to the environment. The keynote presentation was by local resident and nationally recognized natural gas safety expert Mark MacDonald who said that the proposal was clearly too dangerous for a residential area.

McDonald’s presentation has been posted – in PDF format – to NaturalGasWatch.org. It is very informative, and definitely worth a read. If you live in the neighborhood, this issue affects you!

Articles describing what was said at the meeting:

‘West Roxbury gas pipeline alarms residents,” Metro, Dec. 4, 2014

“Expert tells West Roxbury residents they don’t want to be around if a proposed natural-gas facility blows up” by Howard Sorett, Patch.com, Dec. 4, 2014

Community notice that advertised the meeting:

“Meeting to Stop Threat to West Roxbury Neighborhood” by Karen Weber, Patch.com, Dec. 2, 2014