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Lynch: FBI To Investigate Possibility of Cyberattack At Weymouth Compressor

The Weymouth gas compressor station by the Fore River photographed on Sept. 13, 2020. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
The Weymouth gas compressor station by the Fore River photographed on Sept. 13, 2020. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

The FBI has been asked to investigate whether a "cyber intrusion" triggered this week’s emergency shutdown at a natural gas compressor station in Weymouth.

The cause of the emergency shutdown on Sept. 30 — the second that month — is still unknown, though it seems to have originated in the plant’s electrical system, said U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch.

"Because this is an international pipeline, and because of the national security implication, the FBI has been asked to take a look at any possible cyber intrusion that might have triggered the release," Lynch said.

The FBI declined to comment on whether it was conducting an investigation involving the station.

The plant has been shut down since Sept. 30, and will remain so until an independent safety analysis is done and officials with the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) sign off on a re-start plan.

"As we continue to gather additional information as part of a detailed review process, we have found no issues which would affect the safety of the station," said Enbridge spokesperson Max Bergeron in an e-mail. "We are committed to placing the compressor station in service only once we are fully confident any issues have been properly addressed."

Lynch also submitted a request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Friday, asking the agency to revoke the station's certificate of public convenience and necessity, which would effectively pull the plug on the project. U.S. Sen. Ed Markey made the same request earlier in the week.

Lynch noted that the compressor is sited in a "high-consequence area" --  according to PHSMA -- because of the population density of the surrounding community, and its proximity to a highly-trafficked road.

"There's very little margin for error here, because of the proximity of so many homes  -- a lot of children in these neighborhoods," Lynch said. "So the consequences could be dire if the worst happens here."

On Thursday, PHMSA opened an investigation into the two recent shutdowns and gas releases.

Related:

Barbara Moran Twitter Senior Producing Editor, Environment
Barbara Moran is the senior producing editor for WBUR’s environmental vertical.

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