CANTON, Mass — The Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Nurses Association voted Thursday to oppose the construction of a fracked natural gas pipeline and compressor station in Weymouth.
Board members voiced their support for Weymouth, Quincy and Braintree residents who are concerned that the proposal by Houston-based Spectra Energy would endanger the safety of their communities and create negative health effects, including air, water, noise and odor pollution.
“As an organization of frontline nurses who look out for the health and safety of the public, we stand strongly in support of residents who are worried about how the Spectra project could impact their families and neighborhoods,” MNA President Donna Kelly-Williams said. “Our organization also has longstanding concerns about the use of and reliance on fracked gas to be delivered through this pipeline, given the significant environmental damage caused by fracked gas.”
Earlier this year, the MNA board voted to support the Stop the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline (SWRL) campaign and to assist SWRL, the local West Roxbury grassroots community organization active in opposing that pipeline. The 27-member board consists of registered nurses from across the Commonwealth with experience in a range of health care specialties.
Spectra’s proposal is two-fold. First, it wants to build a 7,700-horsepower compressor station near the Fore River in North Weymouth, across from neighborhoods in Quincy and Braintree. Second, the company wants to add four miles of 30-inch-diameter pipe in Weymouth and Braintree and then more than double the horsepower of the compressor station.
The compressor station would pose a serious health threat to the local community, according to Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station, an organization which has researched potential negative effects, including excessive noise, exposure to toxic pollutants, and a decrease in residential property value. According to the Patriot Ledger, elected officials in Weymouth and residents in Quincy, Weymouth and Braintree have overwhelmingly opposed Spectra’s plan, saying it would be an eyesore and a safety hazard for more than 950 homes within a half-mile.
“The Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station are honored and encouraged by the endorsement of the Mass Nurses Association,” said Alice Arena, a co-leader of the group. “Our groups’ number one concern is the health effects of the toxic output of this compressor station. The role nurses play in public health is vital to the health of our communities, and we are grateful for the support and acknowledgment they are giving us in this fight.”
Donna Dudik, a nurse from Weymouth, is chair of the MNA’s Political Action Committee and a member of Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station. She is concerned about the danger of explosion at the compressor station and the long-term health risks for hundreds of families who would be exposed to pollutants.
“Spectra will be blowing volatile organic compounds into the air,” Dudik said. “Over time, these compounds can give people cancer. We know they are carcinogenic. We already have six potentially hazardous industrial sites in the Fore River Basin, accounting for 84 periods of federal pollution violations in the past three years. Do we really need one more in this already overburdened area?”