Kim Janey joins fight against East Boston compressor station

Acting Mayor Kim Janey has waded into the East Boston substation debate, vowing to “take any steps necessary” to halt the controversial project.

“We are here to join this community and to do whatever is necessary to stand with the residents who have made a strong case for protections of their community,” Janey told reporters on Tuesday in Eastie. “We will take any steps necessary to prevent this from happening.”

Janey wouldn’t elaborate much further on what specific steps the city might take, other than to back up her new Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space Mariama White-Hammond’s comment that the city would advocate against the granting of the one outstanding state permit around the site’s proximity to Chelsea Creek.

“We will have a strong stand when it comes to that board who will be meeting around the water,” Janey said.

The proposed power substation, which would tuck in off of Condor Street behind the new police station that’s currently under construction, has drawn controversy for years. The ire came to a head in the fall, when dozens of residents and activists testified in a virtual meeting before the city’s conservation commission against the structure.

They claimed, among other things, that when the low-lying land along the Chelsea Creek floods, as it periodically does, the place could “explode” — causing the giant tanks of jet fuel a few hundred feet away to detonate and blow up the neighborhood. There are also concerns over the fact that the heavily minority East Boston near the airport could be subject to yet more pollution.

But the ConCom ultimately gave the substation its blessing, saying its hands were tied by the board’s limited scope of oversight. The project then cleared a significant state permitting hurdle in February, and is moving toward final approval.

Eversource has defended its proposal, saying it’s taking safety concerns into account. The company says these substations are never popular in neighborhoods, but they’re necessary to keep the grid in good shape.

Six Eversource high-ups have maxxed out their annual donations to Janey in the couple of months since she became acting mayor, each tossing her $1,000. That’s the maximum amount a person is allowed to give a politician in a calendar year. Several of these same people maxed out their donations to then-Mayor Martin Walsh last year, and company honchos kicked money to Gov. Chalrie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito last year, too.

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