Number One CO2 Emitter in the Northeast: Brayton Point Power Station

brayton point power plant photo© Mona Miri

In Somerset Massachusetts sits the Brayton Point Power Plant, a coal fired plant which the EPA listed in January 2012 as the worst power plant station in the Northeast.

Since its purchase by Dominion—which owned and was responsible for the Salem Power plant, one of the oldest and most hazardous power plant in the Northeast—the Brayton plant has been outfitted with more than one billion dollars of renovations and new equipment to meet environmental requirements.

One big renovation that has been made, and a change to the Somerset landscape, are the monumental water cooling towers. Although they are relatively safer for the environment than before, they still kill many organism and fish in the Taunton Lake nearby, releasing warm water back into the lake and extracting the lake water to cool down the plant.

These main advances have been made to comply with existing and pending environmental guidelines. In data released by the EPA in January 2012, the Brayton Point Power station produced more CO2 than any other source in New England and New York—almost 5.9 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2010 and 2011, and almost entirely carbon dioxide, with smaller amounts of nitrous oxide and methane.

Earlier in January 2012 Brayton Point also topped the EPA list of the largest emitters of chemicals in Massachusetts in 2010, the Toxic Release Inventory, with more than 1 millions pounds of chemicals. It is clear that with the renovation and investment made to the Brayton Point Power Station, a coal fired power plant is still hazardous, harmful to our well being and to the environment.

Dominion was quoted by saying that, "It's not really a surprise we are on top of the EPA list, it shows you how large each of these power stations are."

If we know how large they are and how much they can emit, why not make the necessary changes in reducing and moving away from fossil fuels? It is a bigger challenge for power plants with such size that Dominion needs to take responsibility for.

Shana Cleveland of the Conservation Law Foundation says, "Unless we move forward with regulations that require them to reduce CO2 emissions, or a national cap-and trade program, we are not going to see significant reductions".

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