WEYMOUTH — Over 200 people gathered outside the site of a natural gas compressor station in Weymouth on Wednesday resulting in the arrest of at least 13 individuals, according to police.

The protest, organized by local activists Fore River Residents Against the Compressor Station, was in response to the construction of a natural gas pipeline proposed by private Canadian energy firm Enbridge. Dubbed the Atlantic Bridge Project, the $452 million pipeline is designed to export natural gas supplies from New Jersey to New England and the Canadian Maritime provinces. Construction on the compressor station in December after a permit was issued by the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs following a five-year review, including independent air quality and environmental reviews, sparking widespread local criticism—including a hunger strike by Boston University professor Nathan Phillips.

According to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission documents, the Atlantic Bridge Project has until January of 2021 to become fully operational. Several private energy concerns which initially backed the project have since withdrawn their support, instead of selling their shares to National Grid. National Grid has since indicated the proposed site does not meet public demand.

Opponents and local residents argue the project could potentially exacerbate climate change and air quality hazards in a neighborhood that’s already seen a dramatic health impact from industries operating in the city, including Citgo Petroleum, the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, and petrochemical manufacturer Twin Rivers Technologies. 

“I have a responsibility, as someone who enjoys breathing fresh air and drinking clean water, to stand up so that people everywhere have access to the same life-sustaining rights,” said protestor Kiki Clougherty in a press release. “And having seen the devastating impacts of climate change firsthand, knowing that things will only get worse, I have a responsibility to stop rogue corporations on behalf of children and future generations.”

A 2017 independent report issued by Braintree-based GeoLabs, Inc. found the emission of toxic chemicals far exceeds the Department of Environmental Protection standards.

Police indicated that the protestors who were arrested faced charges of disturbing the peace and trespassing, including two people who locked themselves to equipment and charged with resisting arrest and property damage. The protestors are slated to appear in Quincy District Court on Wednesday, February 26th.

Image via Wikimedia Commons