January 4, 2012 Breyton Point closed loop cooling tower project – Somerset, MA

Breyton Point

As the Seekonk, MA assistant plumbing and gas inspector, Timothy Cutler had the privilege recently to take a tour of the Breyton Point closed loop cooling tower project in Somerset, MA.

Tower Design Lessens Environmental Impact

It was quite surprising to learn that there is no water inside the towers.  The towers are giant columns built in a specific manner that induces a huge draft as warm water is sprayed through a plastic-type mat. The closed loop system means that the water is not introduced back into the bay.  Before the towers were built, the water from Mt. Hope Bay was used to cool the steam turbines that generated the electricity.  The water was then sent back to the bay.  The new cooling towers design is much better for the environment.

Breyton Point is owned by Dominion.  They have invested approximately $500 million to dramatically reduce the amount of cooling water the station uses from Mt. Hope Bay, thereby minimizing the thermal impact on the bay. A closed-loop system will reduce the required amount of cooling water by more than 90 percent.  Additionally, “investments in air emissions equipment at Breyton include an ash recovery system that offsets about 170,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year and reduces landfill needs. Other equipment has been or is being installed by Dominion to reduce significantly sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury emissions.”


One thing that was really impressive, at Breyton Point, was the safety program put into effect to ensure no one got hurt during construction. When you build a tower that is 497 feet tall and 360 feet wide you can’t be safe enough. The scaffolding system they used was anchored to each section as the towers were built. They used fast-curing concrete that needed to harden overnight so they could move up to the next section in the morning. The forms were custom made by a European company.  They even had a concrete monitoring system to tell them when the concrete was properly cured. The only noise the neighbors hear is splashing water.   As of the date of the Breyton Point tour, they were in the process of building sound reading walls all around the twins to cut down on the noise.

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