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South Boston waterfront could get a salt pile - and giant wind-turbine blades

Map of proposed Easteron facilities.

Proposed Eastern facilities.

The BPDA board voted today to being negotiations with the operator of the Chelsea salt pile to begin building a similar facility on the South Boston waterfront - as well as a facility capable of handling the shipment of giant turbine blades that could one day power New England from offshore towers.

Eastern Salt Co. of Chelsea already has Massport approval to lease roughly several acres of its land in the Raymond Flynn Marine Park. The BPDA board vote means the city agency that oversees the overall marine park will begin negotiating with Eastern for a roughly 2.6-acre parcel the BPDA owns.

Eastern did not have specific plans for the land, but said it would start off by adapting part of the land to store salt for use in winter road operations and part of the land for the company's lesser known operation: Bulk shipping of other large cargoes, such as aggregate materials and the unloading of large items for construction and road projects that are not easily transported on crowded urban roads. Company president Shelagh Mahoney said a third part of the land would be set aside specifically for shipping for wind-turbine components, in particular the giant blades that would spin at the top of offshore platforms.

Mahoney said that while salt would be a priority initially, she expected turbine shipping would begin to become more important as more turbines are built offshore. The US has lagged behind Europe in wind generation, but the Biden administration has pledged to spur additional facilities, such as the Vineyard Wind proposal.

Dan Adams, an architect for Eastern said the site is "really uniquely positioned to bring Boston very strongly into [the wind-power business] as it movers north."

Mahoney added that the Chelsea salt facility would remain in operation.

In addition to its existing bulk-stuff operations, Eastern would also look at repairing the North Jetty dock that would be capable of handling "Panamax" ships - which are the largest ships that can travel through the Panama Canal - and has begun talking to Boston Ship Repair about helping to renovate its facilities, all of which would help create a new "multi-port" facility able to handle numerous marine-based operations.

If the company and the BPDA can reach agreement, it would get a ten-year lease, with three potential ten-year extensions. Eastern, which would spend several million dollars equipping the site, would pay the BPDA roughly $202,000 a year in rent for the BPDA part of the site.

Board member Michael Monahan tore into the proposal, however, saying the land should be put out to bid again, because the company has yet to provide details on just what it would do on the land, because he doesn't see many good marine-related jobs with the proposal and because the last thing South Boston needs is a 30-foot-high salt pile, no matter how colorful the cover on it might be.

There's really nothing concrete on what you're going to put there," he said. "I don't see the jobs. even if you loaded that place up with salt." He added he hopes that we'll eventually see some new technology developed that means the end of the need for salt for clearing roads in the winter, what with the way the salt blows around and gets into local lakes and the ocean.

The BPDA has put the parcel out to bid several times in recent years. The most recent RFP brought three proposals, from Eastern, from a company that would use the land as a warehouse facility for DHL and the Finishing Trades Institute of New England, which proposed building an educational center for glaziers and similar trade workers. BPDA staff recommended Eastern because it was the most marine-intensive of the three proposals, for land in an industrial and office park that's supposed to be focused on marine businesses.

Board member Ted Landsmark agreed with Monahan's focus on jobs and moved to amend the proposal to enter into negotiations with Eastern to include discussions of job training.

The board voted 3-1, Monghan opposed, to begin negotiations.

PDF icon Parcel M staff recommendations105.81 KB



A salt pile on some of the most expensive real estate in the region? Call me crazy, but that seems crazy.


No developers were harmed in the making of this proposal.

It's in what used to be the marine industrial park, but which is now just the marine park, but it's not in the fancy shmancy Seaport.


built in an industrial park? More luxury condos? Another beer garden? The working class people of Boston needs jobs.
You are crazy.


Salt piles make jobs?

More residential building near a major job center, and the construction jobs that come with it? Absolutely. Commerce? Absolutely.

Salt pile? Big eh.

Does Massport really need the $200k annual lease income? I thought the South Boston waterfront is only made to build highly priced residential real estate , it seems like it’s going back to the industrialized age . The Salt mound will attract rodents, therefore the residents of the highly priced area will start moving elsewhere.

And it's not just the pricey residential/office area. There's a whole industrial section, the point of which is to serve as what's left of Boston's working port. Here's a handy map:

Map of South Boston highlighting industrial area

The area inside the poorly drawn red line is the industrial area of South Boston, which is supposed to remain that way (unlike the stretch along Dorchester Avenue) although the BPDA has been allowing more office/lab space into the land it controls there.

The big area just north of the green Castle Island reservation is the Conley Terminal, where container ships dock for unloading. The rectangularish waterway north of that is the Reserved Channel. And above that is the Black Falcon pier and then the Raymond Flynn Marine Park, which is where the proposed facility would go.

What we seem to be calling the Seaport these days is basically to the left of the outlined area. Don't worry: Nobody lives, or will live, right next to the salt pile or the turbine blades.

This area is way too exposed to rising tides to build very much permanent structure on.

The wind turbine won't likely be impacted once it starts to wade in the tides.

The Salt mound will attract rodents

I'm gonna need to see a citation for that claim.


All those years spent cleaning up the harbor just to pollute it with Road salt


Remember the snow pile of 2015? That could not have been good for the harbor.

is a saltwater body to begin with. The existing location is on Chelsea creek and doesn’t seem like it has been affected.

And I support supporting it.


Monahan is right. He didn't use the U word, but that's what he is thinking. It's truly refreshing to hear anyone at the BPDA actually promoting industrial and water-dependent use for the waterfront. They seem to just get that thrill going up their legs when developers promote the cookie-cutter shipping crate condos stuffed into the East Boston waterfront, and now arriving in Dorchester. They are amending the Zoning Code by fiat, and no one seems to care. If the School Committee texts and email messages are as interesting as they appear to be, imagine the treasure trove awaiting a few FOIA requests delivered to the BPDA.

Perhaps if you can sell the government agencies whatever it is that prevents icing on the roads that doesn’t have salt content, there wouldn’t be the need for this.


The best is LESS SALT applied as brine, but there are also no-salt alternatives like mag chloride and others.

My dad built a post-retirement consulting career on this, working mostly in Canada - and he died 10 years ago.

MA still uses way too much salt - the savings from using brine trucks can and do pay for themselves.

I have a bag of that down in the cellar. Looks a lot like sodium chloride, so I would imagine that if government had the finances to upscale the process (I guess we could skimp on things like schools, no?) there would be piles of that instead of what we have now.

Brine? Again, unless the idea is to use sea water, where they would need a location in an industrial area near the harbor (if only they could find such a place,) they would need the raw component shipped in. Again, we are back to a pile of salt by the docks.

But my guess is that those who are saying a salt pile in the Flynn complex is wrong are not really worried about salted roadways (yourself excepted.)

The non-salt operations Eastern is proposing are also infrastructure.

"as well as a facility capable of handling the shipment of giant turbine blades that could one day power New England from offshore towers."

The author has a great sense of humor

Many other parts of the world are have been getting renewable wind power for decades. Many parts of the US midwest getting nearly all their power from wind. And before someone says "what about Texas...?" remember that Texas isn't connected to the interstate grid, they went cheap on winterizing their equipment (North Dakota has turbines running year-round), Texas shut down many of its gas turbine plants for maintenance at the same time, and Texas seemed to think that the climate would be the same every year as it had in the past, so no need to worry about "freak" ice storms and cold weather. Wind power is an important and growing part of the power grid, get used to it.


Your comment doesn’t make me feel
More safe about the future , Boston cop


And no, I do not have the time or slightest interest in having Coffee with a Cop on the Clock.

Be Best!

You need to read more, think more, and overall learn more.

Our coasts are very windy places and the only reason we don't have more wind power is OIL EXECUTIVES founding astroturf organizations and generally fucking around with bullshit, because they want to keep us dependent on imports from such wonderful sources as the Saudi Royal Family of mass murderers.

Do you like licking camels? Because you are licking camels.

Instead of buying oil and gas, we could be exporting power. 1000 TERAWATTS, BAYBEE!!!!! $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Even Charlie Baker sees the potential in all this. The guy is a freaking microgrid wonk!

Read. Learn. Grow up. Wake up. https://www.capecodtimes.com/story/news/2021/03/19/ma-maine-ri-offshore-...

One use that involves taking things off ships and one use that involves putting things onto ships. What’s what working ports are for.


Just wait until you learn what type of in and out mouths are used for

That is a terrible use of that land, what a bad idea.

Being from Chelsea I'd be curious how much the naysayers cared about flying road salt when our community and East Boston were pushing for more coverage of the Chelsea pile that affected Chelsea and East Boston... Does it only suddenly matter because it's South Boston? Is that site even near actual houses? Chelsea's site shares a street with actual homes right across from it. As long as we are all using road salt it needs to be stored somewhere. Currently it's mostly stored in Chelsea. Maybe it's time other areas take SE responsibility for their own infrastructure.

We wouldnt need to have such giant piles of salt if local communities were required to store a years supply of salt for an average year on their own property. Instead they have contracts with Eastern and will pick up right before storms resulting in lines of trucks right before a big storm. It's amazing how much the massive pile shrinks during a storm. It's this cycle that makes the traffic so horrible and the pile so high. Yet other communities don't even want to host their own little piles.


That year of salt pile in each city or town is way, way, way smaller if they invested in brine trucks that use a lot less salt to do a better job, as brine treats the pavement with a layer that prevents ice from forming in the first place.


Excellent, another pile for Southie.

thought process. Put the salt at the contaminated Edison plant site, where they used to store salt piles back in the 60”s snd 70”s and develop the waterfront property, there’s more parking down there.

The old Edison plant is being turned into a new residential complex.