WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A proposed medical waste facility in West Warwick has drawn dozens of residents to speak in opposition of the project.
The Rhode Island Department of Emergency Management held a virtual public comment hearing Monday night on the controversial proposal.
The site would be at 1600 Division Road in West Warwick, near the East Greenwich town line.
MedRecycler, which is a subsidiary of Sun Pacific Holding Corp, is behind the project.
CEO of the New Jersey based company, Nicholas Campanella, says the facility would use pyrolysis to get rid of medical waste. When giving examples he mentioned materials compiled from doctor, dental and even veterinarian offices.
“All of us generate this material and it’s important to have a way to process it without filling up the landfill,” he said. “Our company will do that while generating clean renewable energy as well.”
Campanella says the facility will create jobs and positive economic impacts for the state, but residents in the area say there is no proof that the impacts of the operations aren’t harmful.
MedRecycler tells 12 News they are not operating out of that building right now, though they do have a lease for 48,000 sq. ft., which is only roughly 10% of the 500,000 sq. ft. building.
Some raised environmental and health concerns, and several elected officials testified against the proposal.
“I don’t know if they searched the country to find the one state agency that would allow their residents to become the guinea pig for this kind of a operation but they landed here and that’s what’s happening, ” East Greenwich Town Councilor Mike Donegan said.
The virtual meeting went on for nearly three-and-a-half hours, with the majority of people testifying in opposition.
Mike Healey, a spokesperson for DEM, says they have already given MedRecycler a “notice of intent” to approve the project, but they still need to evaluate whether the company meets the standards of the medical waste facility license regulations.
Part of the evaluation includes taking into account the public concerns submitted during the public comment period, which goes until April 15.
The DEM then has 90 days to make a final decision, meaning residents can expect to hear one by July 31.