Judge orders Brayton Point metal operations to shut down
SOMERSET, MASS. (WLNE) – A Land Court judge in Boston ruled this week that a scrap metal operation at Brayton Point in Somerset must shut down within 14 days.
The decision comes after nearly three years of nearby residents complaining the operation was spewing metal dust into their homes.
The decision is a huge victory for residents; the Judge siding with three women who have been fighting for the decision since the company set up shop.
Nicole McDonald, Kathy Souza, and Nancy Thomas tell ABC 6 News they’re relieved more than anything. Souza is a selectman for the town of Somerset. She, along with McDonald and Thomas were defendants in the civil trial, which lasted five days.
“Tears. Tears of joy, relief, I think that’s the first full night I’ve slept – and I’m not exaggerating even a little – in a very long time,” Thomas said.
“This has fundamentally just been about basic rights,” McDonald said. “It’s about our ability to live in our homes, breathe clean air, protect our children, residents, the elderly. That’s all we’ve ever wanted.”
The women argue the dust is harmful to residents and their health. Thomas says she experienced it first-hand. She lives across the bay from the operation and says she was prescribed medication to deal with respiratory issues.
“I live right along this waterfront here, a couple houses away. I haven’t been able to open my window since the scrap pile sat on that dock,” Thomas said. “You can see it, you can taste it, it leaves a gritty feel in your mouth.”
The ruling upheld two cease-and-desist orders previously issues by the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Judge indicated he visited the site and saw the dust for himself, but also gave credit to the owner of the property, Brayton Point LLC., for trying to prevent the spread of the dust.
ABC 6 News reached out to Brayton Point LLC., along with the company behind the metal operation, New Jersey-based Eastern Metal Recycling for comment. We have not yet heard back.
According to court documents, the ruling doesn’t require the site to shut down permanently; only until the town’s zoning board approves a plan for containing the dust.
Residents ABC 6 News spoke to say they hope this is goodbye for good.
“We’ll watch what comes next and we’ll be here for what comes next,” Souza said. “We’re praying that this is the end of scrap metal, but we’re here if it’s not.”