DEM gathering public input on proposed West Warwick waste disposal operation

West Bay

WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — A West Warwick company is getting ready to launch a new waste disposal operation which they say will generate electricity.

A handful of residents, however, fear the facility at 1600 Division Road will release medical toxins into the air, so they gathered Monday morning at a nearby intersection to try and get their message across.

The group opposing the project said they wanted to raise awareness ahead of a Department of Environmental Management hearing on the issue planned for next week.

“This is something that needs to get raised because it was kind of coming in under the radar, and the community needs to be aware,” said Denise Lopez of East Greenwich, who helped organize the event.

The company behind the project, MedRecycler, says it will use medical waste to generate renewable energy in an environmentally friendly way, but opponents say it has never been tested.

“They don’t know how to test it yet, and it could have an environmental as well as a health impact,” event co-organizer Catherine Costantino said. “That’s really something that leaves us scratching our heads and saying, ‘why are you putting this in the middle of a neighborhood, why are you putting this in the middle of a business community that’s been established for years?'”

MedRecycler CEO Nicholas Campanella told 12 News last week that they’ve done their due diligence.

“We’ve relied on the scientists and the engineers that work for the state to make sure that we’re going to be operating in a safe matter,” he explained.

“We’re going to be highly regulated, we’re going to have regular inspections, and we’re going to do everything required to meet those requirements and be a good neighbor and a safe neighbor,” Campanella said, adding that the facility will be located in an industrial park.

DEM spokesperson Mike Healey said public input will be factored into the agency’s decision in reviewing MedRecycler’s application. In addition to next week’s Zoom hearing, members of the public can submit comments to the DEM in writing.

The hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 15, at 4 p.m.

After the meeting, the public comment period will remain open for 30 days, after which the DEM will render a decision within 90 days, according to Healey.

DEM: Learn more about the project here »

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