PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The lead contractor of the ongoing 6-10 Connector redevelopment project has pleaded not guilty to dumping truckloads of contaminated fill in Providence.
Barletta Heavy Division Inc. and former employee Dennis Ferreira were each charged with two counts of illegal disposal of solid waste, one count of operating a solid waste management facility without a license and one count of providing a false document to a public official.
The charges stem from an investigation that revealed the company illegally transported more than 4,500 tons of contaminated stone and soil to the Providence construction site in July 2020.
Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha said the stone was imported from a construction site in Massachusetts, while the dirt was transferred from the Pawtucket-Central Falls Rail Station.
“Ferreira and Barletta Heavy Division used the 6-10 site as an environmental dumping ground,” Neronha said. “Their actions come at the expense of Rhode Islander’s public health and their environment.”
12 News obtained the criminal complaint detailing the wealth of evidence the state has gathered against the company and Ferreira. The complaint, which is hundreds of pages long, includes emails, witness statements and police incident reports.
In an investigative summary from a U.S. Department of Transportation special agent, one witness claimed to have seen crews removing dirt from the Pawtucket site for three days in July 2020.
When the witness confronted Ferreira about the work, the summary states he said, “I can do anything I want with this soil.”
Barletta Heavy Division was arraigned Wednesday, where a representative pleaded not guilty on the company’s behalf.
The company’s next court date is scheduled for May.
Meanwhile, Ferreira has already pleaded guilty to three counts of making false statements in connection with the federally-funded highway project.
Ferreira scheduled to be sentenced in March on those charges, and will be formally arraigned on the new charges next week.
12 News reached out to the company, to which spokesperson Jill Reilly said Barletta Heavy Division “respectfully rejects the criminal charges” brought forth by Neronha.
“None of the soil and stone transported to the 6-10 job was solid waste,” the statement reads. “The soil and stone transported to the 6-10 highway job was the same in composition and makeup as the urban soil already present in, around and under the 6-10 highway for generations, a fact that has been established through rigorous testing performed by a highly respected and reputable geotechnical engineering firm.”
Barletta Heavy Division is still under contract to complete the project, according to the R.I. Department of Transportation. The company has already agreed to pay a $500,000 fine and will return $1 million to the federal government, which is more than twice the funds paid as a result of the claims.