Fighting Against Natural Gas (FANG)
Contact: Nick Katkevich, 401.572.8148, firstname.lastname@example.org
WHISTLEBLOWERS EXPOSE PIPELINE SAFETY VIOLATIONS
Claims Raise New Concerns Over Spectra Pipeline Expansion
Providence, RI – Local community members and activists gathered Tuesday morning on the steps of the Rhode Island State House to announced new claims of pipeline safety and environmental violations associated with Spectra’s multi-billion dollar AIM pipeline expansion project. Coming forward with these claims are two former Spectra contractors whose job was to act as safety inspectors on the expansion project, including overseeing construction of four gas pipeline compressor stations in Burrillville RI, Stoney Point NY, Cromwell, CT and Chaplain,CT.
According to the Whistleblowers, Spectra Energy pressured inspectors to hide information from safety reports and circumvent rules while rushing to complete the "AIM" project at all costs. In a series of interviews with journalists and community organizers, a former top safety inspector stated that workers on the project suffered heat exhaustion and were pushed to work 70-80 hours a week while attempts to raise concerns were met with immediate retaliation.
The former inspectors reported that "we were told to shut the f*** up or quit" and that “at every turn when I made a safety suggestion, I was met with monumental resistance from the company on every level.” Fighting Against Natural Gas (FANG) has launched a new website, SpectraExposed.org, that shares detailed testimony from the whistleblowers.
The inspectors report that the situation is so toxic that if the company doesn't change their workplace culture, the safety mishaps and continuous violations could lead to a catastrophic pipeline explosion. “It’s safety above all else until you have a one billion dollar project that’s behind on permits, then its go, let’s go. I have had inspectors that have come up to me in the field and have said to me that there is a pipe buried underground that was not inspected appropriately. And the reason that it was not excavated and inspected is that it cost too much money.”
An April 2015 investigation by Politico shows that last year alone, more than 700 pipeline failures killed 19 people, injured 97 and caused more than $300 million in damage nationally. Two of the past five years have been the worst for combined pipeline-related deaths and injuries since 2000.
Kathy Martley, founder of Burrillville Against Spectra Expansion (BASE), stated. “I live within a quarter mile of Spectra’s compressor station and pipeline expansion project. I already can’t sleep because of the constant noise, and fear that a major incident or explosion could happen at anytime. Why do Spectra’s profits come before the health and safety of my community?”
Resistance to Spectra’s AIM project has swelled in communities across the Northeast over the last two years. In Rhode Island, FANG and BASE have taken action to stop the expansion of Spectra’s gas compressor station in Burrillville, including community meetings, petition drives, as well as a series of nonviolent direct actions including blockades, locking down to construction equipment, and a tree-sit on Spectra’s the construction site.
The community resistance in Burrillville will continue throughout this week with a mass mobilization against Spectra Energy and the newly proposed Clean River Power Plant. On Friday December 4th there will be a community dinner and food drive in Burrillville followed up by a mass rally and action on Wallum Lake Road, near the site of Spectra’s current compressor station and where Invenergy hopes to build a $700 million gas fired power plant.
In the lead up to the mobilization FANG is leading several nonviolent direct action workshops. Those interested in attending the mobilization are encouraged to register at StopSpectra.org/December.
Burrillville RI, a rural town located on occupied Nipmuc territory, is a regional epicenter of the fracked-gas industry. The town is home to two major interstate fracked-gas pipelines, a fracked-gas power plant and two toxic fracked-gas compressor stations. As part of the Spectra expansions, one of these compressor stations would be doubled in size.