2010-11-03 41 -71
Brayton Point power plant, located just off of I-195 in Somerset, MA.
An afternoon watery jaunt with the dogs seems to me like an acceptable excuse to not study.
- Ralph, Tanna and Hendrix
Just outside of Providence (15 miles, but in a different state, welcome to New England), hotel parking lot right off of the exit, cross the street and head down to the water. It's a half mile south along the shore to the hash, which turns into a bit longer as we follow several inlets and try unsuccessfully to stay dry. Surprisingly enough, there are plenty of no trespassing signs, but all of them (I think) were only to prevent inland traipsing. After walking by a few houses on the shore, we transition to the marsh surrounding the power plant. Super fun for the dogs. A bit muddy for me.
Turns out, this is the largest and "dirtiest" fossil fuel power plant in all of New England. It's a coal-powered plant using 1960's technology. The folks that run [Brayton Point Station] evidently decided that spending money to make it more eco-friendly was bad business, which makes sense from their point of view I suppose, and so they ignored the issue until the EPA recently started to force them to deal with it. Pretty crazy article, among other things, evidently they use an equivalent amount of water to cool the plant as the entire bay, seven times a year! (Since they're still using an antiquated open loop system.) And until a year or so from now, when the huge cooling towers that are under construction (which the EPA forced them to build) are completed, they will continue to dump the water back in without cooling it, which probably hasn't been so good for the marine ecosystem for the last 50 years. Never really thought about the business vs. environment battle in such a concrete way, it was pretty fun to read about.
The marsh turned super-reedy, i.e. can't see three feet in front of you, as I crossed as small a section of the inlet as I could. Kinda neat. Back out to the shoreline, around the corner, and then 500 tortuous feet uphill through amazingly thick but not too prickly brambles led me a few feet short of an actual no trespassing fence and to the hash itself.
The way back was relatively uneventful except for a slightly different, but similar looking, crossing of the inlet, which turned out to be hip deep rather than ankle deep as I was expecting, leading to a rather wet and muddy pants and jacket. Oh well. It was still a beautiful day and surprisingly beautiful area, considering what I was expecting. Plenty of ducks and other marsh critters, probably enjoying the warm water, and some super nice houses on the other side of the bay. Definitely worth the trip.