Construction has begun on a natural gas project in Weymouth that is expected to take 10 months to complete and continues to draw widespread opposition.
“Having received all necessary approvals, Algonquin Gas Transmission has begun construction activities for the Weymouth Compressor Station,” Max Bergeron, a spokesman for Enbridge, said in a statement Wednesday, a week after the project received final federal approval. “We remain committed to ensuring construction activities are conducted in compliance with all applicable requirements, with public health and safety as our priority.”
Project opponents, citing health and safety concerns associated with compressor stations, have fought the effort for years, but have been unable to stop permits from being issued. Final state permits were granted in November.
Opponents have pledged to continue their resistance even after construction begins. “As Enbridge makes preparations to build the compressor station, we need to make preparations for nonviolent civil disobedience,” Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station said on its website.
The compressor station is part of Enbridge’s Atlantic Bridge project to extend its pipeline infrastructure and ship gas to utilities well north of the project site, including in Maine and Canada.
During an Oct. 10 public meeting on the project, TRC Cos. senior consultant David Sullivan, a licensed site professional, outlined construction and site cleanup plans. Algonquin Gas, a subsidiary of Enbridge, hired TRC to assist with project compliance.
A “release abatement measure” or RAM plan will govern cleanup of the contaminated site, which contains underground fuel oil, and enable construction, said Sullivan, who also outlined soil and ground-water sampling that’s taken place at the site along the shores of the Fore River, near King’s Cove in Weymouth.
Excavations are unlikely to encounter ground water at the site, or the petroleum that remains at the site, Sullivan said. The ground water at the site is not contaminating the cove, Sullivan said, calling that a “good outcome.”
Construction activity will include installation of natural gas suction and discharge piping, a main station building with a turbine, and an auxiliary building that includes offices. Sewer and utility work will also be required on the site.
Fill material will be used to build the location up “a fair amount” to guard against storm surges, Sullivan said.
About 15,000 cubic yards of soil will be removed during the project, with 5,000 yards reused on site. Backfill will account for 22,000 yards to elevate the compressor station and auxiliary building, he said.
“We understand and I don’t think we’ve hidden the idea that the site is not being cleaned up to pristine conditions,” Sullivan said. “It’s being cleaned up sufficiently for its future use within the bounds of how that is allowed under the regulations.”
About 1,110 truck trips are planned at the site over a 10-month, weather-dependent construction schedule, Sullivan said.
“The construction workers can wear normal construction attire,” Sullivan said. “There will be no moonsuits needed.”
At the Oct. 10 meeting, opponents of the project expressed strong skepticism of Sullivan’s commitments to ensure public health and safety at the site, and also asserted that the project will be built on land comprised of industrial waste and coal ash.
Matthew Beaton, who served as state energy and environmental affairs secretary while the project was being permitted, departed that post in April to work for TRC Cos. A Hingham resident asked Sullivan at the meeting if Beaton had recused himself from all matters pertaining to the project.
“I have seen Matt at the office and he hasn’t been involved in this project at all,” Sullivan said. “He hasn’t been involved in it.”