BMC Resident, URI Professor Arrested Over Spectra Energy Protests

It's the latest in a string of unusual protestors raging against Spectra's aggressive push into New England.

Photo provided by Nick Katkevich.

Photo by Steve Ahlquist of provided by Nick Katkevich

A Boston Medical Center resident and a prominent University of Rhode Island professor were arrested Thursday morning after locking themselves to the front gate at the site of Spectra Energy’s proposed $700 million gas power plant in Burrillville, Rhode Island.

Opposition to Spectra’s aggressive expansion of natural gas infrastructure throughout New England continues to draw unexpected activists into defiant acts of civil disobedience. Earlier this summer, Dedham selectman Mike Butler intentionally got arrested in an attempt to draw attention to the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline, a controversial project that Butler said was started ahead of schedule.

Today’s protest began before 6 a.m., when Curt Nordgaard, a pediatric resident with appointments at BMC and Boston Children’s Hospital, and Peter Nightingale, a faculty member of URI’s physics department, used bike locks to secure themselves to a fence. Local police cut through the locks and fence and put the duo in custody.

“I’m taking action today because as a parent and being a pediatrician compels me to use any and all nonviolent means to stop this project,” Nordgaard said in a press statement released by a group known as FANG, or Fighting Against Natural Gas.

Nick Katkevich, a spokesman for FANG, said that Spectra’s is pushing several large projects in New England, including liquefied natural gas storage facilities in New Bedford, a compressor station in Weymouth, and a number of different pipeline projects.

“They want to build these things as quickly as possible to further hook us on fossil fuels and prevent renewables from flourishing,” he said.

Katkevich, whose group has been organizing against these projects for the last 18 months, said he’s not surprised that city councilmen, doctors, and professors are forcing the hand of police and landing behind bars.

“More and more folks are realizing how bad fracked gas is for climate and for the community,” he said.

Burrillville police Lt. John Connors told the Providence Journal that it’s likely Nordgaard and Nightingale will be charged with trespassing, and he said he expects that they will have to pay for the damage done to the fence.