Heating Up:Eversource and Channel Fish Square Off Again at OHNC Meeting

By John Lynds

Representatives from East Boston’s Chanel Fish and Eversource squared off again at Monday night’s Orient Heights Neighborhood Council meeting.

Again both parties presented the pros and cons of Eversource’s plans to build a substation City Yards directly across from American Legion Playground in Eagle Square.

Chanel Fish’s attorney Don Berardi and Eversource’s John Hoey presented the community with different point of views regarding the substation. While Hoey argued the substation is necessary to handle forecasted electric load growth in the area, Berardi said the existing Chelsea substation that feeds Eastie is enough to handle forecasts.

Berardi’s client, Chanel Fish Company in Eagle Square, a plant that processes fish for human and animal consumption as well as bait has been fighting Eversource’s plan to place the substation next to their factory for months. Channel Fish’s owner Louis Silvestro has been pleading his case to the state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board who will rule on the substation’s location.

Aside from his environmental concerns, Silvestro argues the magnetic field the substation would produce would hinder very sensitive metal detection equipment inside his fish processing plant.

At Monday night’s meeting Berardi really focused on the potential health impacts that the substation allegedly pose to the health of residents living in Eagle Square. Berardi presented new evidence of Eversource’s own expert addmitted that Electric Magnetic Field (EMF) link to possible increase for childhood leukemia.

“Their own doctor, Dr. Peter Valberg allegedly admitted at a meeting in Winchester that there is a link between EMFs and increases in childhood leukemia,” said Berardi.

The admission occurred at an Empower Winchester meeting back in February. Winchester is also fighting an Eversource substation.

At that meeting, Dr. Valberg said the “bottom line is there are associations” between ENF exposure and childhood leukemia but added that the studies are not conclusive but later added during the same meeting the studies ‘”do suggest a strong chance” that ENFs and childhood leukemia are linked.

Berardi said to date more than 5,000 people signed a petition against placing a substation in Eagle Square and copies have been submitted to the Boston City Council and the City’s Office of Neighborhood Services.

“We are told they are destined for the Mayor’s desk,” said Berardi. “Our fight does not end there.  We still need to convince the City and our elected officials to tell Eversource to reassess its plan to build a substation here in East Boston.  Until the City takes a strong stance against the substation, Eversource will plow forward toward construction, as they do with all of their projects.”

However, Hoey said that Chanel Fish makes some great arguments and nothing is set in stone.

“The state’s Energy Facilities Siting Board will rule on this project,” said Hoey. “They will take into account all these arguments that Chanel Fish has made and will make a decision based on what we have presented and what Chanel Fish has presented over these past few months.”

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