Citing RI Pipeline Rupture, Rep. Lynch Calls for Suspension of Local Gas Line Projects

Apr 5, 2017 Issues: Energy & Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the wake of the recent natural gas pipeline rupture in Providence, Rhode Island, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston) called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to suspend the use of the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline and place the proposed Weymouth Compressor Station project on hold until the incident is fully investigated and public safety risks are mitigated. In a letter to FERC Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur, Congressman Lynch raised concerns that Spectra Energy does not have the infrastructure in place to appropriately monitor gas leaks or potential safety hazards.

“Following two gas leaks on Spectra pipelines in New England in a matter of months, I am increasingly concerned that the safety of local families is at risk. Proper safety measures must be put in place prior to moving forward with Spectra’s proposals for the densely populated neighborhoods of West Roxbury and Weymouth. While I appreciate neighbors taking the initiative to report the smell of gas, we need built in checks and balances within Spectra’s organization to detect leaks and ensure public safety and environmental hazards are properly addressed,” said Congressman Lynch.  

On March 29, an interstate natural gas pipeline owned by Spectra Energy in Providence, RI ruptured, forcing the closure of Interstate 195 and several streets in the area. Congressman Lynch’s letter notes “the Providence pipeline rupture is not the first incident in 2017 where Spectra Energy failed to notice a gas leak before residents reported the smell of gas. On January 6, 2017, a relief valve froze on a Spectra Energy gas metering station in Weymouth, Massachusetts and residents a mile away detected the smell of gas.”

According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, nationwide, there were 37 serious pipeline incidents and 305 significant pipeline incidents in 2016. This year, there have already been seven serious pipeline incidents and 44 significant pipeline incidents. With incidents occurring on Spectra Energy pipelines in Providence, RI and Weymouth, MA already in 2017, Congressman Lynch called for a comprehensive investigation of the Providence incident and urged FERC to place the Weymouth and West Roxbury projects on hold until all appropriate safety measures have been adopted.

Following the January gas leak in Weymouth, Congressman Lynch promptly visited the site and sought a full accounting of the incident. Congressman Lynch also attended the Weymouth Town Council meeting on February 6 with representatives from Spectra Energy and called for the Weymouth facility to be run properly and safely.