Burrillville Residents, Advocates Call on DEM to Consider Safety, Health, and Noise Ahead of Compressor Station Permit Approval


Burrillville residents attend a meeting at the Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library on a proposed permit for the nearby Enbridge compressor station. (Colleen Cronin/ecoRI News)

BURRILLVILLE, R.I. — Residents who live near a natural gas compressor station urged the state Department of Environmental Management to reject a permit from energy company Enbridge that would allow it to continue operating in northern Rhode Island.

DEM held a hearing last week at the Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library, just a few miles down the road from the compressor station, to gather public comment on the permit.

Steve Alam, from the village of Harrisville, said he had “no interest in seeing more [pollution] in our environment, in our air,” but wanted some incorporations put into the permit if it is to be approved, including increased safety measures and a way to reduce blowdowns.

Blowdowns occur when pressure is released from the pipeline at the compressor station and cause loud, jarring noises. On top of this added noise, compressor stations have been known to release contaminants into the air, such as methane, that can have negative impacts on people’s health.

Nick Katkevich, an organizer for the Sierra Club, asked that if DEM does approve the permit, would it consider adding stipulations to end operations in the future.

He also noted that the Environmental Protection Agency has changed its air pollution standards for compressor stations and said he hoped the new permit would take those regulations into account.

Katkevich and local resident Kathy Martley have organized against fossil fuel operations and expansions in town through their group Burrillville Against Spectra Expansion, as known as B.A.S.E, for several years. (Spectra was renamed Enbridge after a merger.)

Martley could not attend the meeting, but Katkevich shared some testimony for her, describing the smell she sometimes gets coming from the compressor station and her concerns over how the station is impacting air quality.

Martley spoke to ecoRI News earlier this year to describe the gas smell and other fears as she geared up for a potential expansion proposal from Enbridge that would impact Burrillville.

“You try to listen to the birds out here, and all you can hear is the wacky noise,” she said at the time about the compressor station.

Another resident who said she has just moved to Burrillville echoed similar sentiments at the meeting.

“It’s a beautiful area back here,” she said. “I would like DEM to really think before they sign any more permits.”

Members of the public can submit comments on the permit to DEM until April 19 at 4 p.m.


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  1. Until we get to what some would call paradise. Why not pull out all the stops an make all fuel affordable .

    Burning wood has got to be dirtier than anything else listed .
    But it continues as a reaction to Unaffordable fuels ,also hazardous in some ways.
    An it’s usually it’s just for one winter season .

    Who’s reaping the benefit an causing this ?
    We have an existing tank farm an fuel depot, an dock for barges,ships etc . Here in Portsmouth, Rhode Island . One of the biggest
    in the country .

    New Formulas are used to increase fuels efficiency.
    We can do things better an make improvements,,but why do we have to do without.
    Causing untold harm to
    Innocent consumers.

  2. Burrillville is suffering from cumulative impacts. Time for a change. No new fossil fuel infrastructure whatsoever. Then phase out what still exists.

  3. I’d ask people who reject natural gas electrical generation to commit to only using solar and wind electrical generation, discontinue use of all products employing petroleum-based plastics and minerals mined from the earth (cellphones, etc.), and reject all food transported by gas and diesel powered trucks. Then I’ll take them seriously and with the respect that I give to the Amish people.

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