WRL Updates 2017

Following are all of the e-mail updates we have sent to date in 2017 about the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline; they appear here in reverse chronological order. (If a link is not live, you can copy it and paste it into your browser.)

 

March 3, 2017

Dear all,

On Tuesday (2/28) we held an informational community meeting with the community liaison representative, Karen Gentile, from the US Department of Transportation arm called the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). We learned last fall that once the West Roxbury Lateral (WRL) pipeline and Metering & Regulating (M&R) Station became operational, Spectra/Algonquin and National Grid would be expected to comply with PHMSA regulations (primarily Spectra/Algonquin) as well as  those of the DPU’s Pipeline Engineering and Safety Division (primarily Grid). Consequently, we thought it was important to get an overview of the regulations with which the energy companies must comply, particularly in the area of safety.

You can listen to the entire meeting, including Ms. Gentile’s presentation, on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/PZYzlbNxkno.  You can view Ms. Gentile’s PowerPoint presentation here. Our deepest thanks to John St. Amand for his technical skill and generous time in setting up microphones, projection, and videotaping for this lengthy meeting and for posting the video and supplying the PowerPoint link afterward. We could not have done any of this without his expertise.

The main goal in arranging this meeting was to make it clear to PHMSA that our Fire and Police officials did not feel the “safety” meeting held by Spectra last fall accomplished its goals or supplied our first responders with any of the information they needed and requested in regard to the pipeline and M&R Station in order to devise a safety plan or a plan in the event of an emergency. Toward this end, we met with a number of representatives from the Boston Fire and Police Departments the week prior to the PHMSA meeting to confirm that Spectra had still not answered their questions or forwarded the information they had requested in the fall. In addition, Ms. Gentile met with Fire and Police officials privately prior to the informational meeting on Tuesday to discuss their concerns in further detail. It is our belief that all parties now have a better understanding as to how best to move forward with securing the information from Spectra with the aid of PHMSA and how to devise a safety plan once that information is in hand.

For the record, Rep. Coppinger made a number of invitations to the DPU’s Pipeline Safety Director Richard Wallace in an effort to have either him or one of his staff attend this meeting. They would not. Consequently, it remains somewhat unclear exactly where the DPU has oversight and where PHMSA does, but it is clear that the DPU was not interested in helping the community understand how these two agencies would work together in regard to the WRL. Essentially, however, it appears that PHMSA is responsible for Spectra/Algonquin and the transmission portion of the line, as well as the two buildings at the M&R Station owned and operated by Spectra/Algonquin; and that the DPU Pipeline Safety Division has oversight in general of National Grid and the distribution portion of the line as well as the two buildings at the M&R Station owned by Grid.

The following first responders were present at the meeting on Tuesday: Chief Gerry Fontana and Officer Steven MacDonald of the Boston Fire Department; West Roxbury Area E-5 Captain Steven McLaughlin and Sergeant Scott O’Mara of the Boston Police Department; Chief William Spillane of the Dedham Fire Department; and Chief Michael d’Entremont of the Dedham Police Department.

The following elected officials and/or their aides were also present: Rep. Edward Coppinger, Boston City Councilor Matthew O’Malley, Dedham Town Selectman Michael Butler, Jeremiah Thompson from Sen. Warren’s office, Jack Duggan from the Mayor’s Office, Pat McCabe from Rep. Coppinger’s office, Dave Vittorini from President of the City Council Wu’s office, Ann Cushing from Sen. Rush’s office, and Jen Barsamian from Rep. Paul McMurtry’s office. We are, as always, particularly grateful to Rep. Coppinger and Councilor O’Malley, both of whom were instrumental in making this meeting happen and who spoke strongly and passionately at the meeting on behalf of our community and our first responders and the lack of safety information or a safety plan, as well as how disappointing the “safety” meeting last fall was.

We believe that Ms. Gentile has fully registered our situation and will follow up with PHMSA’s Regional Director about the matter. We believe she understands that Spectra/Algoquin has been largely unresponsive to the requests of our Fire and Police officials and that oversight is required for the company’s compliance. However, it is important that we continue to be in touch with Ms. Gentile and follow up on our concerns. She welcomes communication at karen.gentile@dot.gov or 609-433-6650. Please do not hesitate to contact her with any questions or concerns that you have in regard to the PHMSA regulations and Spectra/Algonquin’s compliance.

For our part, we plan to follow up with the City and try to ensure that our Fire and Police Departments have secured the information they need to establish safety plans and emergency plans in regard to the WRL pipeline.

Rickie Harvey

Note: Our elected officials and their aides have been copied on this e-mail, as with all group e-mails I send regarding the WRL.

Summary of WR Lateral, maps, links, and media coverage: WestRoxburySavesEnergy.org
Compilation of all previous updates sent by us: http://westroxburysavesenergy.org/2015/09/the-west-roxbury-lateral-pipeline/
Facebook: West Roxbury Dedham Spectra Energy Algonquin Natural Gas Pipeline Expansion
Twitter: #PipelineWRox,  #RejectSpectraPipeline, #StopSpectra, #FightTheFlow

 

January 29, 2017

Dear all,

As reported previously, we were informed by the FERC project manager for the AIM project (of which the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline is part) some weeks ago—in September, at the time of the insubstantial “safety” meeting Spectra held with our first responders—that the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) maintains and enforces the pipeline safety regulations, including an emergency plan and many other safety facets once the WRL is operational. As we know, the WRL was put into operation in early January 2017.

The PHMSA regulations require a number of steps be taken by Spectra and National Grid in relation to the West Roxbury Lateral and M&R Station that do not appear to have occurred. The federal regulatory structure requires operating procedures including emergency response to be in place prior to operation and that the gas companies to be in communication with, coordinate with, and liaison with local police and fire. To the extent that they have not done these things, it appears that Spectra and Grid are in violation of these requirements. Spectra and Grid should be responding to the city’s requests not just as a matter of good practice but also as a matter of law. As you know, the Mayor as well as the Commissioners of the Boston Police and Fire Departments have written letters to FERC and PHMSA stating that their safety concerns have not been met and their many questions about safety procedures surrounding the WRL have not been answered.

Consequently, we have scheduled a community meeting with a Community Liaison representative from PHMSA on February 28 at 2 pm at the Elks Hall (10 Morrell Street). We are sorry this could not be an evening meeting so that more could attend, but it would have been another two months before we were able to schedule an evening meeting due to the PHMSA rep’s heavy travel schedule (our PHMSA region includes 14 states and the District of Columbia, and the rep’s schedule did not bring her near Massachusetts again for a number of weeks).

Here is our summary of what the PHMSA rep has laid out in regard to the federal pipeline safety laws and standards as referenced by PHMSA with links to the code references:

192.605 requires procedural manual including emergencies be prepared before operations commence and updated at least once a year.

192.614 speaks to damage to pipelines from work by others (like adjacent excavation) and mentions blasting. In the case of blasting, any inspection must include leakage surveys.

192.615 describes requirements for emergency plans, including a requirement for coordination with appropriate fire and police and also establishing and maintaining liaison with fire and police.

192.616 describes requirements for public awareness.

192.706 and .723 describe requirements for leakage surveys based on type of pipeline (transmission and distribution) and on classification of the location (eg, “high consequence areas”).

Here is a link to the section of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 190-199 in full, should you wish to review the entire section on pipeline safety prior to our meeting on Feb. 28: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=8001fe328ccd40ed832fe6c01c9ecd21&mc=true&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title49/49cfrv3_02.tpl#0.

We look forward to the opportunity to discuss specific safety, emergency plans, and public awareness concerns with PHMSA. In addition, Rep. Coppinger has requested that the Director of the MA Department of Public Utilities Pipeline Engineering and Safety Division attend the meeting. Both Rep. Coppinger and Councilor Matt O’Malley plan to attend, and we hope other elected officials receiving this will come as well. We have been assured by the Mayor’s Office that authoritative representatives from the Boston Police and Fire Departments will be present at the meeting, as well as a representative from the Mayor’s Office. It is our hope that we can finally get some serious consideration of our safety concerns and address the additional issues raised by our first responders so that they have full information and the ability to be prepared in the event of an emergency, as laid out in the PHMSA regulations. Join us if you are able.

Rickie Harvey

Note: Our elected officials and their aides have been copied on this e-mail, as with all group e-mails I send regarding the WRL.

Summary of WR Lateral, maps, links, and media coverage: WestRoxburySavesEnergy.org
Compilation of all previous updates sent by us: http://westroxburysavesenergy.org/2015/09/the-west-roxbury-lateral-pipeline/
Facebook: West Roxbury Dedham Spectra Energy Algonquin Natural Gas Pipeline Expansion
Twitter: #PipelineWRox,  #RejectSpectraPipeline, #StopSpectra, #FightTheFlow

 

January 14, 2017

Dear all,

Three items to touch on in this update.

First, Rep. Coppinger confirmed this past Monday (Jan. 9) with National Grid that the West Roxbury Lateral (WRL) pipeline and Metering & Regulating Station had been put into operation, as we were told and reported the previous Friday would occur.

Second, please remember that although the gas is now flowing, appeals to reconsider FERC’s approval of Spectra’s AIM project, of which the WRL is part, are pending in federal court and will nevertheless move forward. Gas can be turned off. While we were hoping for the next phase of the appeals—oral arguments—to be scheduled for this spring, one of our attorneys recently spoke with the FERC attorney about about potential timing. Unfortunately, he indicated that he has cases where briefing (the previous stage in the appeal) was completed before ours, and therefore, he doesn’t think we will be on the calendar until after the court’s recess (which runs from May 15 to Sept. 15). There is no opportunity for argument during the court’s extensive break. We hope the FERC attorney will be wrong about his prediction, but for now it appears that we will not move to the next phase of the appeal until the fall.

Finally, I attach a copy of FERC’s recent response to Mayor Walsh’s letter of Nov. 28, 2016, (previously forwarded to this list). You will note in paragraph three the reference to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). We learned in September 2016 that PHMSA assumes oversight of the pipeline once it is operational, and essentially, that FERC no longer takes any responsibility. We contacted PHMSA beginning at that time in an effort to begin trying to find and understand the safety requirements and regulations imposed under PHMSA’s jurisdiction and then to determine whether Spectra and National Grid had met these. It came as little surprise to discover that in nearly every case, the energy companies had fallen short or failed altogether to comply with the PHMSA regulations. Subsequently, I sent an e-mail (copied below) to the Mayor’s Office asking that National Grid and Spectra be compelled to meet the regulations summarized in my e-mail. As of last week, unable to yet confirm that the city has followed up on this request, we sent the same information to Cong. Lynch’s office as well as to the offices of Senators Warren and Markey. I have received no response from the senators’ offices but, in keeping with Cong. Lynch’s continued responsiveness, had a call nearly immediately to discuss how best to proceed and received the promise of a follow-up call.

We will continue to pursue the enforcement of the PHMSA regulations with the hopes the city will follow up.

Rickie Harvey

Note: Our elected officials and their aides have been copied on this e-mail, as with all group e-mails I send regarding the WRL.

Summary of WR Lateral, maps, links, and media coverage: WestRoxburySavesEnergy.org
Compilation of all previous updates sent by us: //westroxburysavesenergy.org/2015/05/west-roxbury-lateral-pipeline-updates/
Facebook: West Roxbury Dedham Spectra Energy Algonquin Natural Gas Pipeline Expansion
Twitter: #PipelineWRox, #RejectSpectraPipeline, #StopSpectra, #FightTheFlow

FERCresponsetoWalsh

Copy of e-mail sent to the Mayor’s Office on Dec. 30, 2016:

You will see from my exchange below with Karen Gentile (copied here) of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) that regulations require a number of steps be taken by Algonquin/Spectra and National Grid in relation to the West Roxbury Lateral and M&R Station that do not appear to have occurred. The federal regulatory structure requires operating procedures including emergency response to be in place prior to operation and that the gas companies to be in communication with, coordinate with, and liaison with local police and fire. To the extent that they have not done these things, it appears that Spectra and Grid are in violation of these requirements. Spectra and Grid should be responding to the city’s requests not just as a matter of good practice but also as a matter of law. On behalf of the community, we ask that you follow up and insist that these companies fulfill these safety requirements and provide information that these inspections are occurring according to the regulations.

Here is my summary of what Ms. Gentile lays out below in regard to these federal pipeline safety laws and standards as referenced by PHMSA:

192.605 requires procedural manual including emergencies be prepared before operations commence and updated at least once a year.

192.614 speaks to damage to pipelines from work by others (like adjacent excavation) and mentions blasting. In the case of blasting, any inspection must include leakage surveys.

192.615 describes requirements for emergency plans, including a requirement for coordination with appropriate fire and police and also establishing and maintaining liaison with fire and police.

192.616 describes requirements for public awareness.

192.706 and .723 describe requirements for leakage surveys based on type of pipeline (transmission and distribution) and on classification of the location (eg, “high consequence areas”).

Here is a link to the section of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 190-199 in full, which Ms. Gentile points us to, should you wish to review the entire section on pipeline safety: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=8001fe328ccd40ed832fe6c01c9ecd21&mc=true&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title49/49cfrv3_02.tpl#0

We would very much appreciate a response from you about how the city will follow up on insisting Spectra and Grid meet these requirements. My understanding is that Grid has not yet made the WRL operational; there are matters cited here that must be taken care of before they are able to do so. Please notify Grid that they are not to make the line operational until Spectra and National Grid have fulfilled these requirements.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.

Best regards,
Rickie Harvey
617-413-1786

 

January 7, 2017

Dear all,

When last I wrote (on December 14) we continued to await word from National Grid that they were ready to make the West Roxbury Lateral pipeline and Metering & Regulating Station operational. As you may recall from an earlier update, Spectra had placed gas in the pipeline at the WRL in early December, but Grid was not at that time finished with their preparation work, so the WRL could not be put into service.

Yesterday evening National Grid reported to Rep. Ed Coppinger that they plan to make the WRL operational this coming Monday (Jan. 9). Grid is currently finishing up the trench work they have been doing and then plan to be ready by Monday to put the pipeline into service.

If anything changes with this anticipated schedule, we will let you know.

Rickie Harvey

Note: Our elected officials and their aides have been copied on this e-mail, as with all group e-mails I send regarding the WRL.

Summary of WR Lateral, maps, links, and media coverage: WestRoxburySavesEnergy.org
Compilation of all previous updates sent by us: //westroxburysavesenergy.org/2015/05/west-roxbury-lateral-pipeline-updates/
Facebook: West Roxbury Dedham Spectra Energy Algonquin Natural Gas Pipeline Expansion
Twitter: #PipelineWRox, #RejectSpectraPipeline, #StopSpectra, #FightTheFlow

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