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Residents Demand Public Forum on LNG Plant Safety

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It was standing room only tonight at the Select Board meeting. More than 50 residents, almost all who live in Legacy Farms, took the opportunity during Public Forum to express their concerns about the Eversource LNG plant on Wilson Street. More than 28 citizens attended remotely via Zoom. 

At issue is Eversource’ expired air quality permit, the age of the storage tanks (52 years), a lack of security protecting the pipeline that crosses Wilson Street, and the height of the protective dike, which at 10 feet falls below current federal guidelines. 

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Select Board chair Amy Ritterbusch thanked each speaker for their comments. Earlier in the day a smaller group of residents filed paperwork with the town manager to formally request a public forum. 

Separately, outgoing Fire Chief William Miller, who is departing for Bellingham on June 11, provided an update to the Select Board about the joint safety exercise that the fire and police departments recently executed in coordination with Eversource. 

“We tested the safety features in the plant, the fire suppression, water supply systems, and notification system ,” said Miller. He was very pleased with the outcome.

“It is the best and most comprehensive exercise I’ve participated in,” added Police Chief Joseph Bennett, who co-presented.

“Have we improved any of the reporting from Eversource?,” asked Select Board member Ifran Nasrullah. “If something happened would we be notified immediately?” 

Nasrullah was likely referencing the report from former Fire Chief Stephen Slaman who wrote a scathing letter to the Department of Public Utilities on June 10, 2019 citing Eversource’ lack of transparency regarding a “thermal anomaly” at the plant, an event Eversource reported to the town some eight months after the fact.

Miller responded that the new facility (the liquefaction facility Eversource recently upgraded) has better safety and fire alarms. 

Select Board member Shahidul Mannan asked Miller if residents “have anything to be concerned about?” Miller responded that there are no immediate safety hazards and that the new safety features are “amazing”.

Radhika Dix, a resident in attendance, asked the chief to clarify if the exercise tested the tanks or just the liquefaction factory. Miller confirmed that the test was for the liquefaction factory only.

Sunnyside Gardens

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