Original film ‘Under Pressure’ examines gas disaster


Published: 11/12/2019 9:32:21 PM
Modified: 11/12/2019 9:32:15 PM

ATHOL — On Wednesday, Nov. 20, the North Quabbin Energy citizens group, in collaboration with Massachusetts Sierra Club and Friends of the Athol Public Library, will offer a one-time free screening of “Under Pressure” at the Athol Public Library. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. The library is located at 568 Main St. Parking is available behind the building.

This original film by Western Massachusetts high school students describes and analyzes the September 2018 Merrimack Valley gas explosions that severely affected three Eastern Massachusetts communities. The costs were high: one death, 25 injuries, thousands of residents in three towns evacuated, and more than 100 structures destroyed, with around $1 billion in damages.

Why did this disaster happen, and could it happen again? These were some of the questions asked by a team of seniors from the Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield who chose the disaster and its difficult aftermath as the focus of their 2019 senior film project.

In teams, the students researched, wrote and filmed, interviewing explosion victims, first responders, business owners, elected officials, scientists, utility representatives, and activists. Greenfield Community Television partnered with equipment and training.

In just 10 weeks the new filmmakers produced a documentary that received the state Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Award for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education. “Under Pressure” is an official selection of the 2019 Boston International Kids Film Festival.

“This film is powerful,” says North Quabbin Energy organizer Diane Nassif, “speaking to issues affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of gas customers. It also relates to on-going citizen efforts to stop construction of fracked gas pipelines throughout the state and beyond.”

Discussion following the film will be led by special guest Nathan Phillips. An expert interviewed in the film, Dr. Phillips is a professor at Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences. His research was the first of its kind to map gas leaks in a major city (Boston).

Lilly Lombard, Sierra Club activist and mother of one of the student filmmakers, will also attend the showing and discussion.

The event is free of charge, all are welcome, but the library requires advance registration. Call 978-249-9515 to register.

The trailer to “Under Pressure” can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCYEVXwDrPk

North Quabbin Energy, founded in 2005 by members of energy committees in local towns, works to save and improve energy and environment in the area. See more at northquabbinenergy.org/

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