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West Roxbury rally targets pipeline expansion

Protesters decry plan

A rally in West Roxbury protested the expansion of a high-pressure natural gas pipeline into the neighborhood.Scott Eisen for The Boston Globe/Globe Photo Scott Eisen

Chanting “Stop Spectra,” nearly 100 residents marched around a busy rotary in West Roxbury Sunday to protest the expansion of a high-pressure natural gas pipeline into the neighborhood by Spectra Energy Corp. of Houston.

Protesters walked on a snow-clogged sidewalk for nearly an hour, carrying signs reading “Stop the West Roxbury lateral pipeline.” One resident beat a drum, as residents shouted “Spectra No!” between beats.

Some drivers honked horns in support as they drove through the rotary at West Roxbury Parkway. Others slowed down to take informational fliers prepared by residents opposed to the $1 billion project.

“This is one of the city’s busiest rotaries, so it’s a good spot for us,” said Paul Horn, a 30-year-resident of West Roxbury, who helped to organize the noontime rally. “We want to see the project stopped, or at the very least slowed down.”


The rally was staged as Spectra cleared a key permitting hurdle. The Federal Environmental Regulatory Commission released its final statement on the project’s environmental impact on Friday, finding the project’s overall impact could be reduced to “less than significant levels” through mitigation steps.

Spectra is proposing to build a $1 billion expansion of the existing Algonquin Gas Transmission pipeline that runs from New Jersey to Boston. A 5.1 mile spur, capable of carrying 750 pounds of natural gas per square inch, would run beneath parts of Centre, Grove, and Washington streets in West Roxbury, as well as through parts of Dedham and Westwood.

A metering and regulation station would also be built on undeveloped land outside the entrance to a quarry on Grove Street in West Roxbury.

Spectra has said the pipeline expansion is necessary to increase the supply of natural gas to its customers, including NStar and National Grid.

Marylee Hanley, director of Stakeholder Outreach for Spectra, wrote in an e-mail to the Globe that the company is “committed to responsible development, reliable operations and respectful, ongoing engagement with the communities we serve as this project proceeds.”


Still, grass-roots opponents vow to keep fighting. They said they plan to meet this week, and plan more public demonstrations.

“We’re going to work to get the city of Boston and others to respond vigorously to public safety problems this pipeline would create,” said Judy Kolligian, a resident of Jamaica Plain who is involved with the Boston Climate Action Network, an advocacy group.

Opponents already have won the backing of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who in an October letter to FERC called the pipeline’s current route “troubling” and called for the route to be altered to “ensure the reasonable protections sought by the residents of West Roxbury.”

Some residents worry constant blasting at the quarry could one day damage the steel pipeline, which would be buried five feet beneath the ground. “Just the fact that this is so close to the quarry worries me,” said Mary Eng, a Jamaica Plain resident. “It would be very dangerous if there were an explosion.”

Shannon Jones, who bought a home on Kenneth Street in West Roxbury in July, is worried by the high pressure of the line.

“The normal pressure of a pipeline is 60-100’’ pounds per square inch,” she said. “This one would be 750 psi. That’s what makes it so dangerous.”


Protesters walked on a snow-clogged sidewalk for nearly an hour, carrying signs reading “Stop The West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline.”Scott Eisen for The Boston Globe

Kathy McCabe can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.