Federal government investigates unplanned gas releases at Weymouth Compressor
The federal government is investigating the causes of an emergency shutdown and unexpected gas release at Weymouth natural gas compressor station on Wednesday, and if that is station related September 11 judgment and gas release.
The announcement from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an agency of the US Department of Transportation, comes on the same day the facility was scheduled to begin sending gas north to Maine and Canada.
According to the PHMSA, Enbridge – the Canadian company behind the project – cannot restart the facility until the federal investigation is complete and a series of mechanical “corrective measures” have not been taken. been taken. A few hours earlier Thursday, Enbridge announced it “temporarily” interrupted all compressor operations.
“The continued operation of the Station without corrective measures is or would be dangerous to life, property or the environment, and failure to issue this order in a timely manner would create a risk of harm,” wrote Alan K. Mayberry, Associate Administrator of PHMSA. a Corrective action order.
In coming to this conclusion, Mayberry said, the PHMSA took into account that the compressor is in a “high risk area” and is located near a densely populated suburb and a “very suburban road. frequented ”.
“There were no injuries or deaths associated with [Sept. 11 and Sept. 30] Incidents; however, the release of large amounts of natural gas into a densely populated area carries a significant risk of fire, explosion and personal injury or death and releases harmful methane into the environment, ”he wrote.
The senses. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, both avid critics of the compressor station, applauded the news.
“After two recent unplanned releases of gas at the Weymouth compressor station, a third time would not be the charm, it could be a disaster,” Markey said in a statement. “The PHMSA was right to call for a shutdown of activities on the site. And to investigate these dangerous accidents.”
“Let me say it again: The Weymouth Compressor Station is a safety nightmare for South Shore families,” Warren tweeted.
Markey also reiterated his calls for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, to “immediately revoke” the compressor certificate from public convenience and necessity, a 2017 order authorizing Enbridge to proceed with the project, and a recent order allowing the company to put the station “in service”.
“This project is not necessary and endanger the public, “said Markey, adding that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection should” conduct full, comprehensive and updated reassessments of the impacts of this project on public health, safety and security. and the environment ”.
Asked for comments, a spokesperson for MassDEP said: ‘The Baker-Polito administration believes the Weymouth compressor station should be closed until a full and transparent investigation into the safety issues is completed and that a decision be made by [PHMSA] that the installation can be operated safely. “
The Baker administration, which opponents of the project often criticize for not interrupting the project, has consistently maintained that only the federal government has jurisdiction over the Weymouth compressor.
That said, “The Commonwealth remains committed to ensuring that all environmental requirements are met and will continue to conduct site inspections and monitor air quality in the region,” the MassDEP spokesperson wrote.
September 11th, an o-ring has failed, prompting workers to manually trigger the station’s emergency shutdown system and vent 265,000 cubic feet of natural gas into the air. Some of this gas was released at ground level where critics of the project say it is more likely to ignite and explode.
We know less about the September 30th incident, but according to PHMSA, the incident resulted in the release of 275,000 cubic feet of gas. An Enbridge spokesperson did not immediately confirm the figure, but said no gas was released at ground level.
Both incidents are still under investigation.