Protesters barricaded the entrance to the state’s Energy and Environmental Affairs office in downtown Boston with a pink bathtub Monday, holding signs that read “Pull the Plug on Eversource” in opposition to the power company’s proposed electrical substation in East Boston.
“The East Boston substation is an egregious act of environmental injustice. We are engaging in non-violent direct action to put pressure on Secretary [Kathleen] Theoharides and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to deny Eversource the permit needed to start construction,” Alex Chambers of Extinction Rebellion Boston, a climate activist group, said in a press release.
Opponents say the neighborhood is already burdened with environmental challenges stemming from Logan International Airport and worry the substation is dangerously near Chelsea Creek, which sometimes floods. The group and other opponents prefer that the substation be built at Logan Airport.
During morning rush hour, protesters demonstrated their concern about flooding by dropping a fake toaster, symbolizing the substation, into the pink bathtub, representing the creek, producing a theatrical display of cardboard lightning bolts.
“The idea was to show electronics and water don’t mix well,” said Juliane Manitz, an organizer at Extinction Rebellion Boston who lives in Chelsea . “I was told as a child ‘Do not throw any electronics into the bathtub’ and that’s how I see the plans for substation in an area that is already flooding.”
Extinction Rebellion Boston is calling for additional analysis on whether a substation is needed. Manitz said protesters were not granted a meeting with a representative from the state’s Energy and Environmental Affairs office..
In February, the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board approved a change to move the substation 190 feet westward, allowing construction to proceed. Acting Mayor Kim Janeyhas called on Eversource to justify or cancel the project, which she said was based on “flawed projections and flawed priorities.”
Kate Lusignan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.