QUINCY – In an effort to shed light on the effects of industrialization on the Fore River Basin, a citizens group plans to install 10 air-quality monitors throughout the area.
“This is a community science project,” said Robert Kearns, a member of Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station. “We’re installing 10 monitors around the basin as a public service for the public to get air-quality data in their hands and phones and check it out. It’s a holistic approach.”
The citizens group recently installed the first air monitor, made by the company PurpleAir, at a home in Quincy Point. The monitors measure and report fine particulate matter and volatile organic compounds.
“I’ve lived in the basin my whole life, and we didn’t know what was in the air,” Kearns, of East Braintree, said. “We’ll smell funny things, but now we’ll get this data and get it into folks’ hands.”
Kearns said the project will focus on environmental justice neighborhoods, or areas with minority and low-income populations that often take the brunt of industrialization.
Two more monitors will soon be installed in the Germantown neighborhood of Quincy and in East Braintree. Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor Station donated three air monitors, which cost about $250 each.
Kearns said Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station raised about $1,700 to buy more monitors, including a donation from the climate advocacy group Mothers Out Front.
“We’ve had a great show of support from around the area, so we’re thankful,” he said.
While the basin has long been burdened by industry, residents started paying close attention to air quality in the area when the recently completed natural gas compressor station was first proposed.
Algonquin Gas Transmission, a subsidiary of Enbridge, received initial approval for the compressor station in January 2017 from a federal agency. The company also needed several state permits, all of which were granted by regulators despite opposition from local officials and residents. The town of Weymouth alone filed two dozen lawsuits attempting to stop the project.
Residents and lawmakers have said the air-quality results collected as part of the permitting process not only show that the basin is a bad location for a compressor station, but also that there are air-quality concerns. The basin over the years has been home to a pelleting plant, a natural gas metering station, a glycerin factory, a power plant and a Citgo fuel terminal.
The state last year installed a temporary air monitoring station at the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority pump station in the Fore River Basin. Officials have said they will install a permanent station on Monatiquot Street.
Kearns said the citizen-installed monitors will compliment the state monitoring station.
To see the air results from the resident-installed air monitors in the Fore River Basin, visit www2.purpleair.com and click on the map.
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Fore River Basin air monitors called ‘community science project’