Environmentalists Want a Sit-Down with Mayor Walsh Over Substation

October 24, 2018
By

On Wednesday morning local environmentalists from East Boston and Chelsea gathered at Boston City Hall to

Local environmentalist John Walkey talking about the proposed Eversource Substation. Walkey works with Chelsea-based Green Roots–an environmental justice organization that works on environmental issues on the Eastie and Chelsea sides of the creek.

deliver 700 postcards to Boston Mayor Martin Walsh asking for the mayor to meet with residents on both sides of the Chelsea Creek to discuss alternatives to placing Eversource’s proposed substation along the creek.

For two years local environmentalists on the East Boston and Chelsea sides of the Chelsea Creek have launched a visual, media and talking campaign against Eversource’s plans to place the substation on a City of Boston-owned parcel at the City Yards in East Eagle Square.

Last year the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) ruled in favor of placing the substation at the City Yards. However, the final ruling came with some provisos. According to the state board the EFSB vote to approve the substations and 115 kV underground cables in Eastie, Chelsea and Everett came with some conditions. The EFSB directed Eversource to enter into discussions with the City of Boston regarding the possible relocation of the new substation and the related cable on the Chelsea Creek site.

“We are here to deliver more than 700 postcards to Mayor Martin Walsh from local residents and environmental organization,” said local environmentalist John Walkey, who works with Chelsea-based Green Roots. Green Roots is an environmental justice organization that works on environmental issues on the Eastie and Chelsea sides of the creek. “The residents and organizations are all asking for the same thing–to meet with the residents from East Boston and Chelsea hear our concerns about the substation project.”

Walkey argues that the project represents an increased risk in both communities already bearing a huge environmental burden in the region by playing host to Logan International Airport, highways and jet fuel storage tanks along the Chelsea Creek.

“It’s not really clear if this project is really needed given the current electricity demand data we received from ISO New England (an independent, non-profit Regional Transmission Organization that coordinates, controls, and monitors a multi-state electric grid),” said Walkey. “We feel it is not a wise use of the coastal zone given what we know about climate change and coastal flooding. This project precludes any other more appropriate use of the waterfront that could be more climate resilient and provide a better benefit to the community.”

Walkey added that Mayor Walsh has been very receptive to the group’s concerns but while they have met with Walsh Administration staffers they have not met directly with the mayor.

“We are here to bring home this idea that we just want to sit down and talk,” said Walkey. “We are not demanding anything ridiculous. We just want to voice our concerns and have the mayor hear them.”

Another local environmentalist, Sandra Nijjar, said she is concerned about the location proposed because it is adjacent to the American Legion Playground where children play as well as jet fuel storage tanks and the Chelsea Creek.

Resident Paul Shoaf Kozak echoed Nijjar’s concerns. Shoaf Kozak lives across from the proposed substation and said from an environmental standpoint it makes no sense.

“I can testify that this past winter the streets around the substation flooded twice,” he said. “Condor Street, which runs perpendicular to the proposed substation, flooded two times during last winter’s blizzards. The elevation of the proposed substation is only 11 feet above sea level so it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out this could cause a potentially hazardous and very dangerous situation during a flooding event. We are requesting that the mayor simply hear our concerns and include the community in the decision of where to place the substation.”

As part of its decision the EFSB also directed Eversource to provide an update to the board on the status of discussions between the community and city before construction on the substation commences. This has given additional time for Eversource, the City of Boston, and residents to iron out the alternative locations for the substation.

Walsh has maintained that the city is in the process of working with Eversource to ensure the substation is in the best possible location for the residents and businesses in Eastie and those along the Chelsea Creek.

The substation was initially slated to be built on an Eversource-owned parcel on Bremen Street. However, under the former late Mayor Thomas Menino Boston executed a land swap with Eversource. Eversource have the City of Boston the Bremen Street parcel so the city could build the new East Boston Branch Library in return for a city-owned parcel in East Eagle Square.

 

Cutlines,

 

Local environmentalist John Walkey talking about the proposed Eversource Substation. Walkey works with Chelsea-based Green Roots–an environmental justice organization that works on environmental issues on the Eastie and Chelsea sides of the creek.

 

Resident Paul Shoaf Kozak said from an environmental standpoint it makes no sense placing a Eversource Substation on the Chelsea Creek.

 

Environmentalists from East Boston and Chelsea gathered at Boston City Hall to deliver 700 postcards to Boston Mayor Martin Walsh asking for the mayor to meet with residents on both sides of the Chelsea Creek to discuss the Eversource Substation.

 

Local environmentalists outside Boston City Hall Wednesday protesting the proposed Eversource Substation along the Chelsea Creek.