WEYMOUTH (CBS) – For six years, protesters have been trying to stop the construction of a gas compressor station in Weymouth, but for those same six years, construction has progressed to the point where they were set to begin operating the facility on October 1.
However, just 24 hours earlier, the plant endured an automatic emergency shutdown. So now, the owner, Enbridge, has postponed the start indefinitely.
Opponents of the compressor station are overjoyed. “Two accidents already speaks to the dangers of this facility in an urban area,” said Weymouth resident Alice Arena.
Following a previous emergency shutdown, the Enbridge facility was set to be in full operation on Thursday. But in a statement, Enbridge said it will put that on pause until it can do a full review and be certain that the facility is safe.
“Following the activation of the Emergency Shutdown (ESD) System at the Weymouth Compressor Station on September 30, 2020, we have decided to temporarily pause the commencement of operations of the station to ensure we can complete a thorough review and be certain the facility is fully ready for service before proceeding. Safety will always be our top priority,” said an Enbridge spokesman.
The natural gas industry insists the compressor stations are needed to move the gas through the pipelines. But opponents say the Weymouth plant is particularly dangerous for the surrounding neighborhoods.
“This particular methane is fracked,” said Arena. “It’s fracked gas that carries with it a number of toxins. Thirty seven different ones by our measurements and of those 37 toxins, all of it comes out of the stack.”
Still, Enbridge has government approval and when they figure out why the emergency shutdown happened, it will likely begin operating, sending gas to Maine.
On Wednesday, Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren called for an immediate stop of work at the station. Warren and Markey said the “emergency leak is unacceptable” in a letter to the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
On Thursday, Senator Markey went a step further, writing in a statement that the compressor station operations “shouldn’t just be paused, they should be permanently stopped.”