By John Lynds
Smoldering underground power lines were the cause of a carbon monoxide leak into an apartment building on Elbow Street as well as the East Boston Courthouse on Sunday night.
The Boston Fire Department was called to 2-4 Elbow St. at 10:45 p.m. Sunday for reports of a gas leak. Upon arrival fire crews found elevated levels of carbon monoxide and evacuated the building.
Crews then checked the East Boston Courthouse located behind Elbow Street and found high levels of carbon monoxide in there as well.
Four people were evaluated by Boston EMS with two residents being transported to the hospital for further evaluation and possible carbon monoxide poising.
Boston Fire and Eversource officials said smoke from smoldering underground electrical cables was the source of the carbon monoxide scare and utility crews worked throughout the night to replace the damaged cables with new ones. The courthouse was opened for business on Monday morning.
Underground power lines and cables and the dangers they pose has recently been brought to the forefront in Eastie as the Chanel Fish Company has tried to block Eversource’s plans to place a substation near the East Boston City Yards in Eagle Square.
For months Chanel Fish, 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. 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.
While Eversource’s John Hoey has argued the substation is necessary to handle forecasted electric load growth in the area, Chanel Fish’s attorney Don Berardi has said the existing Chelsea substation that feeds Eastie is enough to handle forecasts.
Aside from causing a potential threat to Silvestro’s company, Berardi has said Eversource’s own expert admitted a link between Electric Magnetic Field (EMF) to possible increase for childhood leukemia.
However, Hoey said their own hired experts for the Eastie project found no link between the EMFs the Eagle Square substation would create and cancer and added that the EMF created would be equivalent to using a ‘electric shaver’.
Regardless, the community now knows that faulty power lines could lead to a dangerous build up of deadly Carbon Monoxide gas.