To the editor:
The aging nuclear plant looming to the north of us, with its deteriorating cement and nuclear waste piling up, is more than we need for problems. Intense efforts to establish renewable energy sources to replace the Seabrook plant should be underway now, although there is little evidence of such efforts.
Unfortunately, Massachusetts now faces an additional threat. In an article appearing on TomDispatch.com Jan. 30, the author, Ellen Cantarow, outlines the work she has done on the consequences of fracking, “— high volume hydraulic fracturing which extracts oil and methane from deep shale.” Her investigative reporting took her to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and New York state and now her home state, Massachusetts. The concern here is the pipeline system crisscrossing the country.
“There are more than 350,000 miles of gas pipelines in the U.S. ... for the transmission of gas from region to region” and “...more than two million miles of distribution and service pipelines, which run through thousands of cities and towns with new branches under constant construction.” This complex system of distribution risks the emission of carcinogens and neurotoxins, the spread of radioactive wastes, explosions, fires, spills and leaks.
Canterow writes that Carl Weimer of Pipeline Safety Trust says that, on average, there is “a significant incident — somewhere — about every other day. And someone ends up in the hospital or dead about every nine or ten days.” In addition, waterways and wetlands are at risk and environmental degradation inescapable.
Spectra Energy’s Algonquin pipeline runs from Texas to Boston. The company plans to expand the pipeline to “ ... carry unconventional gas — gas extracted from deep rock formations like shale — into Massachusetts.” Gas fracked from shale formations is mainly methane. “Methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (Co2) and an ecological nightmare due to its potential for dangerous leaks.”
In her conclusion Canterow writes, “Fracking isn’t just about drilling and wells and extracting a difficult energy source at a painful cost to the environment. Corporations like Spectra have designs on spreading their pipelines through state after state, through thousands of backyards and farm fields and forests and watersheds. That means thousands of miles of pipe that may leave ravaged landscapes, produce methane leaks and even, perhaps, lead to catastrophic explosions — and odds are those pipelines are coming to a town near you.”
To read the entire article, go to TomDispatch.com.