High CO levels force tenants from home Christmas morning

By Allan Stein

 A carbon monoxide leak forced the evacuation of more than a dozen tenants of an apartment building at 407 Nantasket Ave. Christmas morning, including one who later died at a local hospital.

Hull Fire Chief Christopher Russo said authorities found that the ventilation pump and piping in one of the units had malfunctioned, so it wasn’t venting outside and was going through the entire building.

Russo said a tenant notified the central fire station that carbon monoxide detectors inside the building were going off. 

The department responded at about 9 a.m. and, upon entering the building, firefighters’ CO detectors “went into alarm, signifying that there was a CO detection,” he said.

Russo said the captain on duty ordered all apartments be evacuated until the source could be located. The three-story building reportedly had 19 tenants in 13 residential units and one commercial unit.

National Grid workers disabled all gas coming into the building until the source of the CO could be located and repaired, Russo said.

While being evacuated, Jonathan Mooney, a 27-year-old tenant, reported feeling ill and was taken to South Shore Hospital, where he later died, the chief said.

“The final determination from the medical examiner on cause of death has not been determined, although the team at SSH do not believe this was CO-related,” Russo said.

As of today [Thursday, Dec. 29], there had been “no report to my office from the medical examiner that this was a CO-related death,” he added.

Russo said the department requested three additional rescue units and a mutual aid engine to assist in the evacuation. There were no other requests for transport to the hospital, he said.

The building, which was built around 1900, formerly housed the historic Oakland House and Mike Burns Inn. The owner is listed as 407 Nantasket Realty Trust, with Paul Gratta as trustee, according to the assessors department.

The Red Cross assisted tenants in finding lodging after they were evacuated, fire officials said.

Hull Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Craig Wolfe, the town’s Red Cross liaison, said the incident fell short of the 20 evacuations that would constitute a “mass care” incident.

“People had places to go to and units were not destroyed. It wasn’t a fire,” Wolfe said.

Russo said that several tenants have been allowed back into the building during the past few days, with the condition that all smoke and CO detectors be replaced. 

All heating systems had to be inspected, replaced, or repaired before five of the units could be occupied, he said.

Hull Public Health Director Joyce Sullivan said all building units were up to date on smoke and CO detectors following a yearly inspection in June and August. The inspections are mandatory prior to renewal of occupancy permits, she said. 

The Hull Board of Health requires each unit to have at least one smoke and CO detector placed within 10 feet of a bedroom, she said.

[The Associated Press contributed material to this story.]

Legislators delay retail marijuana sales

By Matt Murphy and Andy Metzger

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, DEC. 28, 2016.....The process for licensing retail marijuana shops would be delayed by six months under legislation that surfaced first on Wednesday in the Senate before clearing both branches, the result of which could push the legal sale of marijuana, authorized by a successful ballot campaign this year, well into 2018.

The House and Senate on Wednesday morning during lightly attended informal sessions passed a bill (S 2524) amended by Sen. Jason Lewis pushing out the effective dates of several key milestones in the new law, including the dates by which the state will begin accepting applications and issuing licenses for retail pot shop licenses. The state, under the bill, would have until July 2018 to issue the first licenses for retail pot sales.

The move highlights a rare willingness among lawmakers to tinker with a law approved directly by voters.

The bill also directs the Baker administration to contract for a study of marijuana use, including patterns of use and methods of consumption, incidents of impaired driving and marijuana-related hospitalizations and the economic impacts on the state.

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, who presided over Wednesday's session, said the bill would not impact any provisions of the new law that went into effect on Dec. 15, including the legalization of possession, use, gifting and home-growing of marijuana. House and Senate officials said the delay would give the Legislature more time to "improve the ballot question, take up issues not addressed by the ballot question and allow the state more time to implement the will of the voters."

"The Legislature has a responsibility to implement the will of the voters while also protecting public health and public safety. This short delay will allow the necessary time for the Legislature to work with stakeholders on improving the new law," Rosenberg said in a statement. "Luckily, we are in a position where we can learn from the experiences of other states to implement the most responsible recreational marijuana law in the country."

The bill must still be signed by Gov. Charlie Baker before becoming law. The legislation would give the forthcoming Cannabis Control Commission an extra six months – until March 15, 2018 – to develop initial regulations, and applications for testing facility licenses and for retail sales from established medical marijuana dispensaries would be delayed until April 1, 2018.

Treasurer Deborah Goldberg would also have until September, instead of March, to set up the new Cannabis Control Commission.

"Our goal has always been to make sure that the intent of the voters is carried out," House Speaker Robert DeLeo said in a statement. "The delay will allow the committee process to work through the law's complicated implications and provide a process by which we can strengthen, refine, and improve it."

Will Luzier, who was part of the coalition that passed the marijuana ballot law, said he was "disappointed" that lawmakers are pushing back retail sales of marijuana.

"If they need that much time to tweak the process, we're disappointed that they have to take that much time but we understand that that's the way it is," Luzier told the News Service.

Luzier said he believes the delay will likely be a hardship for those in the burgeoning marijuana industry.

WATCH: Luzier on Retail Delay

"Sitting on an investment for that much longer is probably a problem," Luzier said.

Luzier was also disappointed with the process of passing the change through the Legislature, saying he only saw the new language Wednesday morning.

"We only had about two hours to review it. We only got it at nine o'clock this morning," Luzier said. He said, "We're disappointed that it went through in an informal session and we would have liked to have had more to review it, but the process is the process."

Asked if he was attempting to convince a pro-marijuana lawmaker to object to the bill before it is enacted, Luzier said he has been in contact with "our allies" and said, "We haven't gotten a commitment from anyone yet."

Rosenberg and DeLeo said that in the coming weeks they will also set up a Committee on Marijuana comprised of Democrats and Republicans from both branches to work with stakeholders and draft additional legislation to address concerns with the new law.

T will replace Red Line fleet

By Andy Metzger

BOSTON, DEC. 12, 2016...Scrapping plans to overhaul railcars that date back to the 1990s, the MBTA agreed Monday to replace its entire Red Line fleet by 2024 by purchasing an additional 120 to 134 cars at a cost of up to $280 million.

T officials presented the proposal to the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday and said it would be less expensive per car and more beneficial than their prior plan of making overhaul repairs to 84 Red Line cars.

The board approved the proposal unanimously on a voice vote.

Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack told reporters the plan evidences a new way of doing business at the T.

"It represents what we've been trying to do with the MBTA. A different way of thinking, a different way of acting," Pollack said. She said the decision was the result of "working backwards from strategic targets" of shorter times between train arrivals.

The move would increase the MBTA's current order from Chinese railcar manufacturer CRRC, which is under a roughly $565 million contract to build 132 Red Line and 152 Orange Line cars at a facility in Springfield.

When all the new vehicles are on the system, the MBTA could run trains faster, significantly increasing capacity on the line running from Braintree to Cambridge during rush hour, MBTA Chief Operating Officer Jeff Gonneville said.

Red Line commuters frequently face jam-packed trains and service delays on their way to and from work.

The possibilities of a new fleet by 2024 were discussed during an MBTA Board meeting and briefing in September. At the time, officials said the MBTA's busiest subway line could transport an additional 10,000 passengers an hour and keep the time between trains to about three minutes if the agency upgraded the line's entire fleet. The 50 percent boost in capacity would mean less congestion, especially in the system's downtown Boston core, for the 150,000 riders who rely on the line each day, with demand on the rise as housing is built near Red Line stations in Quincy, Dorchester, and Cambridge.

The proposed new agreement with CRRC is for 120 new Red Line cars, which the company would start building right after completing the original order.

In total the new purchase would cost about $280 million, according to the T. The MBTA would also have the option of purchasing an additional 14 cars, which would vary in price, according to the T. Gonneville said the option gives the T "flexibility." Without taking the options, the Red Line would have a total of 252 new vehicles, including 42 spares, in 2024, he said.

By taking action now, the MBTA will lock in CRRC to get to work on the newly purchased Red Line cars right after completing the original order, Pollack said. Pollack said without acting quickly there was a risk CRRC would take a contract from another railcar customer and the T would need to wait for that work to be completed. She said buying directly from CRRC would avoid the cost and time spent on going out to bid and said the board has been briefed in closed-door executive sessions on legal implications of the move.

With more than 280,000 trips per weekday the Red Line is the busiest line on the MBTA. The 84 vehicles date to the mid-1990s and are the newest cars on the Red Line, according to MBTA data.


Legislative leaders say pot legalization won't be delayed

House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stanley Rosenberg on Monday ruled out pushing a last-minute delay in the legalization of marijuana set to take effect on Thursday, but did not take other procedural delays off the table as the state moves toward setting up a new industry.

"The voters spoke in favor of legalized recreational marijuana on Nov. 8th and we fully intend to respect the will of the voters. While we analyze the provisions of the new law and its implementation, we will not be passing legislation that changes the Dec. 15th effective date for possession, use, and home growing," the two Democratic leaders said in a joint statement Monday afternoon.

The Governor's Council is poised on Wednesday to certify election results that show more than 1.7 million voters, or about 54 percent, approved the legalization of the adult use of marijuana that will eventually lead to the licensing of marijuana retail stores around the state. The certification will clear the way for the possession of marijuana and the growing of plants in someone's home to become legal on Thursday.

Both DeLeo and Rosenberg previously said they were considering delaying parts of the new law before the the end of the month. "If it's going to be a delay, it's going to be a very time-limited delay," Rosenberg said last Monday after meeting with DeLeo and Gov. Charlie Baker.

DeLeo said pushing back the Dec. 15 legalization date could be "a little more difficult," but the leaders are still looking at legislation to refine the ballot law that could lead to a higher tax rate on marijuana and delays in other key deadlines, including the March establishment of a Cannabis Control Commission or the fall 2017 timetable to begin accepting applications for marijuana retail shops. –Matt Murphy/State House News Service