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Public hearing held concerning moving soil with known contaminants at site of former Brayton Point Power Plant

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The Somerset Conservation Commission held a public hearing this week to address a request from Brayton Point LLC (BPLLC) to continue work on 62 acres of property located at the site of the former Brayton Point Power Plant, which includes a wetland jurisdictional resource area.

VHB, on behalf of BPLLC, claims that the project is exempt from going before the planning board because of existing Somerset stormwater regulations.

Residents voiced concerns over the request to grade areas that have known concentrations of arsenic, cadmium, chromium, manganese, nickle and vanadium. Brayton Point area homeowners asserted that the property owners previously removed two feet of capped soil in an area of the property that is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. The soil was covering the ground where the former coal pile was stored when the power plant was in operation.

Somerset resident Patrick McDonald urged the board to require Brayton Point LLC to take boring samples of the entire 62-acre parcel that the company is looking to grade, including the stockpile of dirt that the company used from a different area to spread over the site.

Another resident stated that she has video showing the soil was moved to the location that is now being requested to grade, further spreading the contaminated soils.

Brayton Point LLC has requested to open cell 1A on the property, an area that is a known oil ash pit and is subject to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan for the removal of contaminated waste.

Other residents pointed out that there are no landfills permitted in the town of Somerset, even though 11 exist on the north end of the property. That area has the potential for Southcoast Wind to build a DC converter station on 10 acres as well as an additional 30 acres that is slated to be used by a battery storage company to establish a facility.

Brayton Point LLC stated the grading work was necessary so as to create curb appeal for businesses looking to lease space on the property.

Former Board of Selectman and Brayton Point resident Kathy Souza urged the board to think of the saying “dilution is not the solution for their pollution” when thinking about the proposed work.

Brayton Point LLC has been fined in the past for violating local, state and federal laws pertaining to the Clean Air Act as well as other wetlands violations. BBLLC currently has an open OSHA investigation for safety issues. The company has also refused to pay over 3 million in fines assessed by the Town of Somerset for failure to follow zoning bylaws. The town filed a complaint in Fall River District Court over the unpaid fees.

Primary correspondent for the Greater Fall River area, Jess focuses on human interest stories and investigations into political corruption. She is a former fill-in host and digital contributor at The Howie Carr Show, former host of The Jessica Machado Show and SouthCoast Tonight on WBSM in New Bedford, former blogger at The Herald News and a former fill-in host at WSAR in Fall River.

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