By Beth David, Editor
The Acushnet Selectboard heard from Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher, who is also the chairperson of the Liquefied Natural Gas Committee, about the progress on the proposed expansion of the LNG facility on Peckham Road.
Access Northeast, a project proposed by Eversource, National Grid and Spectra Energy, will seek to construct two 3.4 Bcf (billion cubic feet) tanks with an outside diameter of 270 feet at the base and a height of 170 feet each.
The site on Peckham Road currently contains two LNG tanks with a total capacity of .5 Bcf.
For comparison, the rainbow tank that can be seen from the Southeast Expressway in Dorchester has a 477-foot circumference, is 152 feet wide, 140 feet tall and holds 1.2 Bcf, according to National Grid.
In a phone interview, Chief Gallagher said he updated the Selectboard on the process to date. He said there have been some developments over the summer, since his committee submitted their report in June.
The process is still in the prefiling stage, with 13 resource reports being developed by the proponent. He said reports should be finished soon and will then be distributed to stakeholders.
He said the latest delay is that the Environmental Protection Agency told the proponent to expand its parameters for finding alternative sites. Somerset and Freetown have been identified as possible alternates now. The EPA was concerned that the Acushnet plan will destroy 65 acres of wetland.
The EPA has also instructed Access Northeast to prove the case that the expansion is necessary and that no alternative energy proposal exists to achieve the same energy goals.
Mr. Gallagher said that the new batch of resource reports should be released soon, and should have information on the Freetown and Somerset sites.
Mr. Gallagher has been in touch with various agencies at least weekly for one aspect of the project or another.
He is pushing hard for a quantitative risk assessment, which is not required by law.
“But I’m looking to get them to do it voluntarily,” he said. “That’s a weekly phone call. I’m told it’s under active consideration.”
Mr. Gallagher said he understands why residents are upset and want the town to reject the plan outright, without any discussion, but that is not the best way to approach the issue.
Eversource does own the property, and there is a facility there. It makes sense, to them at least, to use that site for the expansion.
The town’s job is to gather real information, and not just shut down communication.
“I think it’s in the public’s best interest that public officials stay engaged,” said Chief Gallagher.
He said the board also agreed to allow him to be a “good muncipal neighbor,” and send a copy of the town’s new bylaw regulating LNG facilities to Freetown and Somerset, if they are, indeed, named as alternative sites.
“So they can see what we’ve been doing,” said Mr. Gallagher. “It should give them a head start.”
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