PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. Department of Environmental Management has blocked a controversial medical-waste energy facility by denying a required permit, state officials announced Tuesday.
The proposed MedRecycler-RI Inc. facility — slated to be built on Division Road in West Warwick near the East Greenwich border — would burn up to 70 tons of medical waste a day at high temperatures and convert it into energy. The process is called “pyrolysis.”
The parent company of MedRecycler, Sun Pacific Holding Corp., has spent more than two years working to advance the project, arguing it would create jobs and provide an alternative source of energy.
But DEM officials said they determined the proposal lacked detail on testing and emergency response plans; was too vague about how medical waste would be stored; would be too close to residential neighborhoods; and was the first use of pyrolysis for medical waste.
They also pointed out that Gov. Dan McKee signed a new law last week aimed at blocking facilities like the MedRecycler one, although a lawyer for the company argued the statute could not be applied retroactively, according to East Greenwich News.
Sun Pacific Chairman and CEO Nicholas Campanella made clear he would not easily accept the decision by DEM.
“This decision makes it perfectly clear why Rhode Island’s business climate was ranked 46th out of the 50 states earlier today,” Campanella said in a statement. “The company will consider all of its legal options, of which there are many.”
Attorney General Peter Neronha, various state lawmakers, the East Greenwich Town Council, the Conservation Law Foundation and the New England Institute of Technology all publicly argued against the project, as did hundreds of individuals who testified against it.
“We can’t open up Rhode Island to out-of-state developers who want to use our state to make a buck by bringing untested, carbon- and toxin-emitting facilities into our communities,” state Sen. Bridget Valverde, D-East Greenwich, said in May.
On Tuesday evening, Neronha said DEM “made the right decision,” citing “significant environmental and public health impacts that the waste treatment facility presented to surrounding communities.”
Ted Nesi (email@example.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram