Request comes after PHSMA allowed the compressor station to recommence operations before the causes of recent unplanned natural gas releases were definitively identified and resolved
Washington (December 14, 2020) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) opposing its decision to authorize Enbridge, Inc. to restart operations at the Weymouth compressor station after activities were halted following two recent emergency shutdowns. On November 25, 2020, PHMSA issued its approval of Enbridge’s “Weymouth Station Restart Plan” without having reviewed a complete third-party investigation of station safety or the findings of a finished Root Cause Failure Analysis. In the letter, the senators also raised concerns over PHMSA’s decision to accede to Enbridge’s requests to limit the list of corrective actions the company had to take to address hazardous conditions. Despite the remaining questions regarding the cause of the unplanned shutdowns and uncertainties about the compressor station’s safety, PHMSA allowed the Weymouth compressor station to recommence operations on December 4, 2020.
“PHMSA should ensure that all necessary corrective actions are identified and taken before the facility is permitted to restart, not after the compressor station yet again exposes the community to danger,” write the Senators in their letter to PHMSA. “Before PHMSA makes any future decisions about operations at the station, we urge you to revoke your approval of the restart plan, allow for the completion of a Root Cause Failure Analysis, and review the results of a thorough investigation into the causes of the two unplanned emergency shutdowns.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
Today’s letter follow a series of actions taken by Senators Markey and Warren to urge responsible entities to shut down the Weymouth compressor station. On November 9, 2020, Senators Markey and Warren wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in support of a petition requesting a rehearing and rescission of the In-Service Authorization issued for the natural gas compressor station in Weymouth, Massachusetts on September 24, 2020. On September 30, 2020, the Senators wrote to the PHMSA, urging the Administration to halt activities at the Weymouth compressor station and investigate the station’s safety following an equipment failure and emergency shutdown earlier that month. The next day, Enbridge agreed to pause start of operations at the gas compressor station. In July, Senator Markey and Senator Warren sent a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, urging the Department to require that Algonquin Gas Transmission immediately halt ongoing venting of natural gas at the meter stations located at the Calpine Fore River Energy Center site and the Weymouth compressor station. The Senators also wrote to FERC to request that the Commission rescind the notice to proceed on construction of the compressor station, due to the lack of complete permits. In April, Senators Warren and Markey wrote to Enbridge, Inc. calling for public health and safety protections at the Weymouth compressor construction site as they continued construction during the coronavirus pandemic. 
Last year, Senators Warren and Markey introduced legislation that would block construction of any compressor station built as part of a pipeline project to export natural gas – as the Weymouth station would, with plans to export natural gas to Canada. The Senators, along with Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), also sent a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of Enbridge, Inc. expressing serious concerns about the company’s proposal to construct the compressor station in Weymouth.