Campus, News

BU professor arrested at protest outside state environmental offices

Boston University professor Nathan Philips stands on the escalator in the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to protest the construction of a natural gas compressor station. COURTESY OF FRRACS

Boston University professor Nathan Phillips was arrested Wednesday while participating in a non-violent protest against construction of a natural gas compressor station outside of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

A trespassing charge was dropped and Phillips was released later the same day.

Phillips is a member of the community group Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station whose mission is to prevent Enbridge, an energy company, from building a “Fracked-Gas Compressor Station” near Weymouth, Massachusetts, said Laura Ashley, another member of FRRACS.

“Our hope was to highlight this issue and really put pressure on the DEP to do the right thing,” Ashley said, “which is denying the remaining permits to protect this community from this toxic compressor station.”

Phillips and other FRRACS members blocked an escalator leading to MassDEP’s Boston office. They had signs saying “Deny Enbridge Permits” and “Time to Escalate.”

Ashley said Boston Police told Phillips he had to move or be arrested.

“So he sat there peacefully and then the police escorted him out,” Ashley said.

Phillips was later released from custody and a charge of trespassing was dropped, Ashley said.

Ashley said the community group believes the compressor is a public health issue. She also said these compressors release multiple cancer-causing chemicals and are prone to accidents.

“The area in which they want to build this compressor station is already overburdened with toxic industries,” Ashley said. “The DEP completely ignored that and is not considering those background emissions and their impact on the public health.”

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey visited the proposed condenser site Wednesday in support of FRRACS.

MassDEP declined to comment.

One Comment

  1. Nathan and this resident group are such an inspiration. This has been a long fight, and it is very disturbing that despite strong opposition from many sides, including WEymouth’s Republican mayor and state senator, the Baker administration has facilitated the permitting of this dangerous project. It is also disturbing that the mainstream media didn’t bother to pick this up. I’ll be at the meeting tonight.