I took a walk around the Hopkinton LNG Corporation (Eversource) this morning, the largest Liquefied Natural Gas facility east of the Mississippi. It serves more than 300,000 customers in 36 towns.
My objective was to recount the gas lamps at Legacy Farms North. When I was researching the story on April 10 I was only able to locate 12 of the 14 lamps, and I reported that. I had been working off the map from the Legacy Farms North plan. But this morning I found all 14; two of the lamps are not installed where the map says they should be. I suspect the installers were trying to avoid topographical obstacles.
I have since corrected the article and included pictures of all 14 lamps. Several are overgrown by trees and brush and none are working.
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Given what’s at stake, I’ve been curious about the security protocols at the plant. I’ve driven by it several times and there is no overt show of security, outside of the chainlink fence that surrounds the facility. The federal regulations that govern LNG plant security are vague. They read “Personnel having security duties must be qualified to perform their assigned duties by successful completion of the training required under § 193.2715“, and in the subsection it simply outlines the training procedures for security personnel. It seems the federal government leaves plant security up to the operator.
Today, as I made my way around the plant I passed the main entrance on Wilson Street. Parked there was a shiny black Lexus with its right rear door open and I could see the silhouette of a man working in the back seat with his leg sticking out the door. I approached and we struck up a conversation.
Originally from the Dominican Republic and now living in Worcester, Emilio works for Allied Universal, the largest private security company in the world. He has been stationed at the Hopkinton LNG Corp since December 2022.
“I work here for now,” he said as he shrugged his shoulders. Emilio’s dream is to start a mobile auto detailing business, and he pointed to his van parked alongside the makeshift guard shack. The car he was detailing belongs to his partner, the other security guard on the premises. His partner occupies the tower above the liquefaction factory, which affords him a view of the entire facility. Emilio says things are always quiet here. He is bored and unarmed.
Back to my first walk a few weeks ago: As I was rounding the fence on the far side of the perimeter I encountered a Toyota Tundra in the woods, near the cell phone tower. I wasn’t sure what to make of it because it was out of place, so I approached it cautiously. As I did I rustled the bushes, startling a man who was sleeping in the back seat. I apologized for disturbing him and continued on my walk.
Today I asked Emilio about that truck. He said it belongs to his supervisor.
Dumb question: Who is minding the store?
The non functioning safety net of the open flame lamps along with the expectation that the HOA will be solely responsible for their operation, maintenance, etc. is outrageous enough, but the low level of security at the plant is a homeland security issue. That might get someone’s attention. The security and lamp safety net go hand in hand and should be taken much more seriously. If there us a security breech and some sort of intentional catastrophic event is triggered, the safety net of the lamps would be critical. Perhaps the author should reach out to the state or federal government with his findings/concerns. At a minimum, contact the security company that the guards work for (Allied Universal) as well as Hopkinton LNG Corp/Eversource and notify them about what you observed. Security guards at a plant like this shouldn’t be detailing cars or sleeping in the backseat of their vehicles. Writing about it raises awareness but as the individual who has actually made these observation, the author should reach out and report them to the appropriate people/regulators. https://www.mass.gov/orgs/executive-office-of-public-safety-and-security
The term “ “inspect what you expect “ comes to mind . I am also sure that “passing the buck” will be another term from the people who are responsible for the plants oversight . As a town we need to make sure we are holding these responsible parties accountable.
I love one of the previous comments on this story “ who watching the store “ all elected officials should take Ronald Raegan’s advice.