Somerset official: Fires just one reason Brayton Point demolition permit was pulled

SE Mass

SOMERSET, Mass. (WPRI) — The Somerset Fire Department has responded to four fires at Brayton Point since the former power plant’s cooling towers were taken down back in April.

The most recent fire broke out earlier this week and on Thursday, the town decided to temporarily suspend the demolition permit for the site.

David Berube, chair of the Somerset Board of Selectmen, told Eyewitness News on Friday that the fire department was learning about the fires from residents, not those on site.

“The other problem down there is the fact that the hydrants and the water pressure and the volume is not up to snuff to handle the fire,” he added.

The demolition was being conducted by the Commerical Development Company (CDC) which owns the property that’s set to become the Brayton Point Commerce Center. On Friday, CDC spokesman John Kowalik said the company has installed five hydrants and reestablished water pressure at the site.

“We are also working with Somerset Fire Department on a new fire prevention plan,” Kowalik continued. “Brayton Point Commerce Center is working closely with the Town of Somerset and look forward to resuming demolition activities soon.”

But the fires were just the tip of the iceberg, according to Berube.

“The working relationship between CDC and us as the town hasn’t been what we initiated,” he said.

Back in August, the town allowed CDC to operate what they thought would be a small-scale scrap metal facility on-site while demolition and permanent planning for the commerce center continued. But Berube said that got out of control and area residents have been complaining about scrap metal trucks allegedly speeding up and down the road at all hours.

“When you say it’s initial and it’s small and you know you’ve got to go through these small steps, you don’t just go full-fledge and start going to this operation that’s like a full-time thing down there and it’s huge,” Berube said. “They misled us and we’re going to hold them to it.”

CDC is still allowed to export scrap metal using barges at this time but not trucks, according to Berube.

As for the long-term future of the site, Berube said he’s heard of proposals for offshore wind projects but as of right now, there’s nothing concrete.

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