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State Responds to Complaints about Brayton Point Scrap Metal Operation

Piles of scrap metal await loading onto ships at the Brayton Point Commerce Center.
Courtesy Kathy Souza
Piles of scrap metal await loading onto ships at the Brayton Point Commerce Center.

The Baker administration has responded to complaints about a scrap metal operation at Brayton Point in the town of Somerset.

In a letter sent last week to the Somerset select board, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides outlined a plan to address residents’ concerns about metal dust and excessive noise generated by the operation.

The letter acknowledged that the scrap metal operation sits on state-owned land. It’s the first such public acknowledgment by the Baker administration.

The state’s ownership of the land could give it more leverage in its dealings with Brayton Point LLC, which oversees the scrap operation along with some affiliated companies.

Theoharides wrote that her office is coordinating with the State Attorney General about possible enforcement actions.

Kathy Souza sits on the Somerset select board and says she hopes the letter from the state is just the start.

“It's a nice gesture and I appreciate them reaching out,” said Souza, but “we're struggling in this town with this company on a piece of state-owned property. And I want to see help and I want to see it soon.”

Souza and other Somerset residents have opposed the scrap metal operation for more than a year. She wants the state to shutter the scrap operation for alleged environmental violations and failure to obtain proper state permits. “It’s shocking to me that — every day that goes by — there’s no action being taken whatsoever.”

In the letter, Theoharides wrote, “[w]e are currently working on scheduling an initial conversation in order to discuss potential next steps for management and use of this site. My office will certainly be reaching out to you again [in] the near future as conversations and actions continue to unfold with regards to this parcel.”

The state fined Brayton Point LLC last month for water quality violations unrelated to the dust and noise.

In May, the State Attorney General issued a 60-day notice of intent to sue Brayton Point LLC and its affiliates for possible violations of the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. No lawsuit has been filed so far.

In July, Governor Charlie Baker said he was unsure whether the state owned the land where the scrap operation sits, despite property records that appear to confirm state ownership.

Brayton Point LLC is a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Commercial Development Company. The company did not respond to WCAI’s request for comment.

Daniel Ackerman has left CAI.
In his time at the station he reported on the South Coast. He came to the station from Minnesota Public Radio, where he reported on science and the environment. Daniel has produced audio documentaries on a motley mix of topics, from the science of sewage to the history of automobile license plates. He holds a PhD in climate change ecology from the University of Minnesota. Daniel was a 2021-22 Report For America corps member.