Groups Announce Opposition to Current
Natural Gas Plant Proposal in Salem
SAFE, HealthLink and Clean Water Action today announced opposition to the tentative proposal outlined by Footprint Power, proponents of a 600-720 MWh natural gas and diesel-fueled power plant on the site of the current Salem Harbor Station. The groups cautioned that the details of the proposal remain sketchy at this point, adding to the level of public concern. Serious questions regarding the health and safety of the area’s residents remain, following two public presentations by Footprint.
“We have deep concerns about the potential local impacts of the proposed plant,” said Jeff Barz-Snell, Co-Chair of SAFE. “There is no natural gas capacity currently at that site. Will a pipeline need to be drilled under residential neighborhoods? Will LNG tankers need to deliver fuel through the harbor? Is Salem being targeted to become an LNG port?”
Key questions concerning the proposed power plant include:
• Is this plant needed since the current power plant has received authorization to close by the region’s electric grid managers?
• Are taxpayer or ratepayer dollars being used to make this a profitable venture for a private developer?
• How noisy would plant operation be for nearby neighbors?
• What are the risks of explosion given the proximity of schools and homes in the area?
• Will natural gas and or diesel fuel be stored on site?
• How will a natural gas and diesel plant of this size affect neighborhood property values?
“There are elements of this proposal that are very positive, including the commitment to remove the current power plant and remediate the site for next phase use,” said Pat Gozemba, Co-Chair of SAFE. “We applaud this concept and feel that it’s key to moving forward to a new era for this valuable waterfront property. However, I fear that a power plant of this size will have a negative impact on the exciting marine developments proposed by the Salem Reuse Study Committee, on which I served.”
“After so many decades of working to protect the health of area residents, we cannot sign-off on more fossil fuel burning at such a large plant for another 60 years,” said Jane Bright, HealthLink spokesperson. “Had this been proposed in 1990, it could have made sense then. Today, we know too much about the devastation pollution causes to our bodies and our climate to support this for our densely populated north shore.”
“We appreciate the public briefings and the understanding on the part of the plant developers that there needs to be a serious community dialogue,” remarked Cindy Luppi of Clean Water Action. “Based on the information they have shared so far, too many concerns remain about a plant that would be a fixture in the neighborhood for decades to come.”
Dolores Jordan, an 83-year-old member of SAFE who has lived next to the power plant site for her entire life noted that, as proposed, this plant could be fired up several times a day. “These gas burning units can be as loud as jet engines,” Jordan said. ”How will that impact our neighborhood? Additionally, I’m concerned about the burning and storage of diesel fuel just a block from my house.”
While our organizations recognize that Salem needs the tax revenue that new harbor development would bring, we believe that the economic, health and safety risks associated with Footprint Power’s current proposal are still unanswered and may far outweigh the potential benefits.
SAFE (Salem Alliance for the Environment) is a group dedicated to addressing environmental issues through education, advocacy, and community organizing.
HealthLink is a non-profit organization on the North Shore working to protect public health by reducing environmental toxins and pollutants through research, education and community action.
Clean Water Action is an organization of diverse people and groups joined together to protect our environment, health, economic well-being and community quality of life with 30,000 members in Massachusetts.