Representatives of the Toxic Action Center and several local environmental groups gathered at the head of Mount Hope Bay across from Brayton Point Power Station Tuesday to denounce the coal-fired power plant as “the most polluting power plant in New England.”
Brayton Point is a repeat winner in Toxic Action Center’s “Dirty Dozen” awards given to facilities judged to be New England’s worst polluters. This year, the power plant is listed prominently in Toxic Action Center’s “25 Years of the Dirty Dozen” 25th anniversary report.
Toxic Action Center stated that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has repeatedly listed Brayton Point as the largest polluter in Massachusetts and all of New England.
Efforts to contact a Dominion spokesman for comment were not successful Wednesday.
“Studies show this pollution doesn’t only affect Somerset — the majority spreads and settles in cities and towns across a 30-mile radius from the power plant. Mercury is a major concern because it is a neurotoxin, with no safe levels of exposure, and in 2010, Brayton Point was responsible for nearly half of all mercury emissions for the state of Massachusetts.” Those 2010 figures were released in 2012.
Even after plant owner, Dominion, “spent more than $1 billion in mandated environmental improvements, installing new mercury scrubbers and closed cycle cooling towers, along with other pollution upgrades, Dominion continues to violate the Clean Air Act and they continue to be the biggest toxics polluter for all of New England,” the group said. “Despite the upgrades, the EPA reported the rate of greenhouse gas emissions emitted by Brayton Point measured almost 5.9 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2010, almost entirely carbon dioxide. It also emitted smaller amounts of nitrous oxide and methane.”
Toxic Action Center said it is not alone in targeting Brayton Point.
“This spring in its State of the Air 2012 Report, the American Lung Association gave Bristol County, where Somerset is located, a failing grade for ozone air pollution – the only county in the state to go from bad to worse. Dominion, the owner of Brayton Point, is the biggest offender and Brayton Point continues to be the biggest emitter of global warming pollution for the region, emitting over 6.3 million ton of carbon dioxide in 2010.”
There are signs of hope that “the winds are changing” and that coal energy production is on the way out at Brayton Point and elsewhere, the group said, noting that Dominion has been trying to sell Brayton Point.
“Montaup shut down in 2010, the Salem Harbor Coal Plant (also owned by Dominion) will close in 2014, and the Mt. Tom Coal Plant in Holyoke operated at less than 10% capacity in 2011. Brayton Point has recently operated at less than one-third of its capacity. Fortunately, we don’t need coal to meet our energy needs. Massachusetts can and should continue to be a leader on clean energy and efficiency. The Department of Energy Resources estimates that it’s technically feasible and economic by 2020 to add more than 3,000 MW capacity to the grid from wind, solar, river and ocean sources, more than double the amount generated at Brayton Point.