Scrap metal operation shuts down in Somerset
No word yet on whether zoning appeal is coming
AT AROUND 7 p.m. Monday night, the clanging sound of scrap metal being loaded onto a ship at Brayton Point in Somerset appeared to come to a halt.
According to neighbors, Eastern Metal Recycling filled a waiting ship to the brim with scrap metal and then began to shut down the operation, complying with a deadline set by Land Court Judge Robert Foster. The ship was still tied up at the Brayton Point dock Tuesday morning, but it’s expected to be leaving soon.
The shutdown of the scrap metal operation is the culmination – at least for now – of one of the most divisive issues in Somerset’s history. The St. Louis-based owner of Brayton Point tore down the old coal-fired power plant that long operated there with the plan of transforming the property into a staging area for the emerging offshore wind industry. But lengthy delays in the federal permitting of offshore wind farms prompted the property’s owner to lease part of the property to Eastern Metal Recycling and a road salt distribution company.
Neighbors complained about the truck traffic, the noise, and the metal dust plaguing their neighborhood, and ultimately prevailed at the ballot box (gaining control of the Select Board and other town agencies) and in court.
Kathy Souza, a neighbor of Brayton Point, a member of the Somerset Select Board, and one of the named parties in the lawsuit that brought the scrap metal operation to a halt, said on Tuesday morning that she assumes the ship will go out at high tide around midday. She said she walked down to the water around 6:30 a.m. and could see a pile of scrap metal behind the ship. A picture taken from a drone at 9:30 a.m. showed a pile of scrap remaining.
Officials with Commercial Development Inc., the St. Louis company that owns Brayton Point, did not respond to queries about whether the scrap metal export operation was being closed down for good.
At a recent court hearing, company officials said they had hired an engineering company to take all sorts of sound and dust measurements during the ship loading process to gather evidence for an appeal to the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals that the scrap metal operation should be given a second chance.Such a request is likely to face strong opposition in Somerset. Souza and two other parties to the lawsuit — Nancy Thomas and Nicole McDonald — say the final loading process moved much more slowly than usual to reduce noise and dust levels the engineering firm was tracking. Company officials said the loading procedures had not changed.
Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has been investigating possible environmental violations at Brayton Point for months, but so far no action has been taken.