PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If you've noticed a peculiar odor while driving along the highway near the Providence waterfront, you're not alone.
The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has issued a violation notice to an Allens Avenue business for violating the state's odors regulation code.
According to the DEM, the infraction stems from Sprague Operating Resources LLC's receipt, distribution and storage of liquid asphalt, located along the waterfront. The DEM says the business also distributes petroleum products.
The odor violation prohibits the release of any air contaminant that "creates an objectionable odor beyond the owner's property line," according to the DEM. The violation carries a $22,500 fine.
In 2017, the DEM said two tanks at the facility that previously stored petroleum were converted to store liquid or road-grade asphalt. An additional tank was also converted to contain a liquid asphalt product called a roofing flux.
Following the change, the DEM began receiving odor complaints in the area "characterized as petroleum, asphalt and/or sulfur in nature," prompting the agency to conduct several inspections of the business.
At a meeting with the DEM in 2018, the company discussed its plan to install air pollution control equipment to combat the odors. The DEM said the company planned to submit a permit application by January 15, 2019, to install the equipment and have it fully operational by June.
After continuing to receive complaints, the DEM inspected the facility again in March and confirmed the odor was still permeating from the facility.
According to the DEM, the company has yet to apply for a permit to install the air pollution control equipment and has not in any way worked to reduce the odors.
The violation says Sprague must cease receiving any products to the tanks producing the odors until equipment to control those odors is fully operational. The company must also submit a report to the DEM within 30 days that "assesses the need for equipment to control odors and other air pollutants."