Proposed Weymouth Compressor Station
- Published By
- Health Impact Project
In collaboration with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the Massachusetts Departments of Environmental Protection and Public Health conducted an HIA on a proposed natural gas transmission compressor station to be constructed in the town of Weymouth, Massachusetts. The proposal is part of a private sector energy infrastructure investment plan and is subject to federal and state approvals, including an air quality permit.
The HIA found that the estimated air and sound emissions do not exceed regulatory standards and guidelines, except for noise levels anticipated during construction. However, the study concluded that the estimated emissions and sound levels, as well as land use and natural resource changes, could affect health through increased stress among nearby residents and shifts in perception of outdoor spaces and property values. Studies have found that people living in environments they perceive as unhealthy are at a higher risk of experiencing stress and other mental health issues.
The analysis also noted that redevelopment at the site has triggered a waste cleanup response, which includes an assessment, prescriptive measures to protect workers from exposure to underground contaminates, and an activity and use limitation to prevent uses inconsistent with site conditions. These measures are likely to deliver health benefits to residents.
The report issued the following recommendations to mitigate any potential negative effects on residents’ health:
- Install an enhanced blowdown alert system to warn municipal staff and residents about planned and emergency blowdowns and document the duration, noise level, and volume of gas released for each blowdown.
- Use enhanced leak detection to address concerns and potential impacts of unplanned emissions that could increase air pollution.
- Incorporate additional site plantings and fencing to increase green space and improve aesthetics.
- Install an air quality monitor to screen for pollutants.
- Test for radon in schools and public buildings to reduce lung cancer risk, assess indoor air quality at schools to reduce pediatric asthma, and share testing information with the public.
- Promote health risk-reduction behaviors to reduce chronic disease and improve respiratory health, particularly among children in Weymouth, through increased support for local health departments, community health centers, and the Massachusetts Department of Health Bureau of Community Health and Prevention’s Mass in Motion program.
The compressor station received air permit approval from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection with four conditions arising from the HIA: restrictions to mitigate construction noise and dust, enhanced blowdown notification, increased leak detection requirements, and a mandate to submit a decommissioning plan.
This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.