BOSTON, MA – In the wake of the recent fatal pipeline explosion in Alabama, Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston) called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to halt the permitting process and construction for the proposed Spectra pipelines in West Roxbury and Weymouth, Massachusetts. In a letter to FERC Chairman Norman Bay, Congressman Lynch highlighted the serious public safety risks of placing a natural gas pipeline in densely populated areas such as West Roxbury and Weymouth.

“I am deeply concerned about this week’s tragic pipeline explosion in Alabama and I believe that FERC needs to take action to ensure that proper safety measures are in place to protect local communities from the dangers of these pipelines. We are witnessing significant damage from pipeline incidents in more remote areas across the country. In the wake of these accidents, it is unimaginable that FERC would proceed with approval for pipelines in more densely populated areas,” said Congressman Lynch.

According to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), there have been more than 220 pipeline incidents in 2016. On Monday, a fatal gasoline pipeline explosion in Shelby County, Alabama killed one pipeline worker and injured five others, igniting two wildfires that burned over 30 acres of land. This is the second incident in two months for the Colonial Pipeline, which had a significant gas leak in September. In April, a natural gas pipeline in Salem, Pennsylvania, operated by Spectra Energy, exploded injuring one person and damaging two homes.

“We have told FERC repeatedly that placing a natural gas pipeline in an active quarry blast zone, like West Roxbury, or in an industrial area with densely populated neighborhoods nearby, as is the case in Weymouth, are serious public safety risks.  If a similar explosion took place in West Roxbury or Weymouth, we could expect mass casualties and I strongly oppose taking those risks,” Congressman Lynch added.

Congressman Lynch’s letter highlights the dangerous and costly damage that pipeline explosions have inflicted on communities in 2016 alone. Congressman Lynch is calling on FERC and PHMSA to fully investigate these incidents to determine whether further safety measures need to be adopted prior to approving construction of high pressure natural gas lines in West Roxbury and Weymouth.

The text of Congressman Lynch’s letter is available here