We know what trenching a 9 mile long high voltage transmission line along the MBTA right of way entails. We know from reading the project plan Eversource laid out.
We know the width of the clear cut would be 22 feet wide (except in places where it will be 50 feet to accommodate splice boxes, and in other areas where it might be more, because who knows).
We know that contaminated soils and creosote soaked rail ties will be removed cleanly and without cross contamination of protected areas (except in places where spills and accidents might occur but mitigation systems will be in place which, if followed properly, and done immediately might help minimize damage).
We know that the tree canopy will be removed the width of the area that Eversource says it needs to be (see width of trenches above).
We know that animals and plants of special concern will not be harmed (except when they are, but programs and mitigations are in place for that, and, if followed to the letter and enacted immediately will not actually bring back any of the animals and plants harmed in the first place).
We know that our neighbors in Hudson shut down a drinking water well due to PFAS contamination already but they will NOT have to worry about re-contamination (except for when they might have to worry because the 9 mile long trench will go through the previously contaminated area, and PFAS chemicals and other contaminants do move from original areas of contamination).
What we don’t know, and can’t know, is what will happen when inevitably there is a mistake along the way; a crew forgets to protect an area of concern, a leak or fluid spill happens in the wrong place, a crew does not notice a leak, or something occurs which was not foreseen and for which there is no plan. And in 9 miles, over years’ long construction, things are going to happen.
On a map, the 9 mile long line from A to B looks simple and straightforward. What is not simple and straightforward are the people and places impacted.
– Aquifers – sources of clean drinking water for Hudson and Sudbury
– Conservation areas – sensitive and protected spaces that we have already spent local state and federal funds to protect
– Wetlands – hard working areas that provide flood control, offer aquifer recharge and water filtration
– Neighborhoods – densely populated areas subjected to defoliant chemical sprays
These days, more communities understand their power and are protesting badly placed / unnecessary / harmful energy projects. Some communities have support of local and state officials and environmental groups, but not always the backing of the Governor nor the state agencies that permit these projects.
Weymouth, for example, is fighting a natural gas compressor station which will spew benzene into the air in a place where state data already shows residents have statistically higher rates of cancer, pediatric asthma, and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
Enbridge, the utility building the compressor station, needed air quality permits from the MassDEP. Mass DEP bases its permitting approval on “models” (not actual measures) of air quality. Their models, unsurprisingly, showed no need for our neighbors in Weymouth to worry. (whew!)
Weymouth citizenry did not settle for the DEP’s word. They questioned the modeling and the process and funded their own air quality survey which showed concentrations of hazardous air pollutants like benzene, xylene and toluene, that already exceeded MassDEP standards.
The compressor station – sited on an already compromised site, and dangerously close to an already impacted community – would very likely complicate an already unhealthy situation.
While the number and egregiousness of such energy projects can seem overwhelming there is a way to support neighboring communities while maintaining the necessary focus and continued advocacy for our corner of the world.
Call the Governor and let him know our state does not need to damage any community in order to solve energy problems. It is 2020 and beyond time to think creatively, sustainably, and collaboratively.
Governor Baker says he’s committed to achieving a climate goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in response to the Mass. Senate’s recent climate bill. Don’t let him talk out of both sides of his mouth. Don’t let Weymouth be a sacrifice zone for Enbridge’s corporate greed. Concerned citizens should not have to go on hunger strikes to make state agencies simply comply with the law.
Forty-thousand people in Hudson and Sudbury should not have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight a poorly planned, ill advised project that the Governor stays suspiciously silent on because it’s been labeled (very questionably) a “reliability project”.
Governor Baker is the Governor of the entire State of Massachusetts and as such needs to keep an eye on the big picture.
Energy companies like Enbridge and Eversource have gone far too long being unaccountable to the citizens they supposedly serve.
Acre by acre, tree by tree, water sources, wetlands that filter and protect our water and buffer us from flood zones, and even the very air we breathe are under attack from utilities.
That which makes our state beautiful and unique and a healthy place to live is at risk. We demand better.
Governor Baker can’t position himself as a champion of fighting climate change by calling for zero emissions by 2050 while carrying on approving new, unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure. Which is it going to be? Let’s ask the Governor. Phone: (617) 725-4005 Email: