Board of Health Advocates Caution

Salem Board of Health Speaks Out on Health Effects of Proposed Gas Infrastructure

by Patricia A. Gozemba

Salem cares about the health and safety effects of gas leaks. The Salem Board of Health on July 10th joined 67 other municipalities in Massachusetts in voting to send a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker making these specific recommendations for state action:

  1. Do not authorize new natural gas infrastructure projects in Massachusetts until and unless adequate data have been gathered to allow making a valid health impact assessment specific to each project.
  2. When the above data have been gathered, require a comprehensive health impact assessment before permitting any gas infrastructure project, following the American Medical Association and Massachusetts Medical Society policies to that effect.
  3. Do not allow any new natural gas infrastructure in the state that primarily serves to export natural gas, if it subjects state residents even to small health effects.
  4. Review current regulations, both state and federal, for existing and new pipelines and other natural gas infrastructure. Put in place additional state regulations needed to improve safety of the infrastructure and containment of pipeline contents.
  5. Consider renewable alternatives to natural gas such as solar and wind reducing our reliance on fossil fuels which add to global warming.

The Sierra Club of Massachusetts is coordinating the campaign to emphasize health and safety as communities like Salem grapple with an inordinate number of gas leaks in our city streets. In 2016, National Grid reported to the MA Department of Public Utilities that Salem had 62 gas leaks but SAFE teamed up with Bob Ackley owner of Gas Safety Inc., who in August 2016 demonstrated that Salem had 232 gas leaks

Part of our concern with gas leaks focused on dead and dying trees and that still is an issue, however, we need to consider how human health is also affected by leaking gas. SAFE will now turn to examining how much of the fugitive gas ends up in our homes and how it affects common illnesses like asthma. Stay tuned.

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