What comes up must come down for the Brayton Point Cooling Towers

Megan Willgoos, Managing Editor

SOMERSET, Mass. — At exactly 8 a.m. on April 27, a world record was broken right across Mount Hope Bay. The implosion of the nearly 500-feet Brayton Point Cooling Towers came tumbling down from dynamite. 

Many people do not realize what the large towers were there for in the first place. At first, they looked like some sort of nuclear power plant, when in fact they were helping the environment and not ruining it. 

Use of the cooling towers began in 2011, in order to help eliminate the negative impact of the coal heating the water in the bay by nearly 25 degrees. Due to this warm water, tropical animals such as dolphins followed the coal ships up into cold, windy New England. On top of this, fish that can be seen in Florida were found in the water instead of mussels, clams and horseshoe crabs. 

Ever since the cooling towers were put into place, the organisms living in the bay came back. Kathleen Souza, a resident of Somerset, Massachusetts, lives in a house directly east of the cooling towers. She said she saw a difference in the water that she had not seen in many years.

“In the past two or three years I’ve seen oysters, clams…. The shell fish are coming back huge and within the last year I see the giant conch shells with the snails in them…,” said Souza. 

Although the towers helped offset the harmful effects of the coal plant, they stopped being used in 2017. This was because Energy Capital Partners, an energy infrastructure company, was unable to supply power to ISO New England; this is a nonprofit corporation focused on the research of electricity in New England. This also meant that the use of coal energy was put to an end in Somerset, making environmental activists and residents happy. 

The demolition of the towers brought the beautiful sunset bay view’s back, but neighbors were nervous about the implosion because of the harmful effects of cement dust and the possibility of their houses caving in. 

Fortunately, the implosion was a success as of right now with people watching from every view in both Mass. and Rhode Island. Alike other people at RWU during the time of the implosion, sophomore Jillian Houle watched the towers come tumbling down from practice on Bayside Field. 

“I was expecting something to blow up and was surprised when the towers legit just fell over,” said Houle. “It was exciting in the lead up to them falling and it was cool to see them just fall, but it was anticlimactic.”

Now there is a looming question — what is to come for the nearly 300 acres of land? The new plan involves the Brayton Point Commerce Center, who bought the property in 2018 and is turning it into an emerging offshore wind energy sector. This means that windmills will be built and sent out through Mount Hope Bay to provide clean energy elsewhere.

Executive Vice President of the Conservation Law Foundation, Sean Mahoney, is excited for the wind energy plan and was actually one of the lawyers that helped put the cooling towers into place. 

“It’s a great day that these are coming down,” Mahoney said. “It’s a symbol of the change and how we are going to generate our power and to be able to do it with wind like we have today, is really a great opportunity for our environment and also for our economy. I am happy about it.”