PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The state’s two largest police unions say they are open to working highway details on the 6-10 connector after soil samples showed contaminants within acceptable limits.
The R.I. Department of Environmental Managements is conducting further testing, however, and the head of the state police said they are investigating the matter.
“We are working with the State Police to investigate this issue,” Charles St. Martin, spokesperson for R.I. Department of Transportation, said in an email. “Once we agree that there is a conclusion and have looked at the data from our tests and theirs, we will make a statement.”
The unions of the R.I. State Police and Providence Police Department earlier this week said they would stop working details on the highway project after allegations surfaced claiming there was hazardous material in the soil. But the position has since relaxed with the additional testing.
“Based on RIDOT’s most recent testing results, I do not object to members going back while further testing is done.” Trooper John Brown of the Rhode Island Troopers Association wrote in a text message Friday.
State Police Superintendent Col. James Manni said he has “authorized the troopers to resume work on that site effective Monday.”
“There is a second test being done by the R.I. Department of Environmental Management and if the results come back OK, they can continue,” Manni said.
Likewise, Michael Imondi, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 of the Providence Police Department, said his union has agreed to work until the pending tests “confirm or refute the state’s results.”
The cautious approach stems from allegations made earlier this week by Local 57, a private union working on the highway project, which accused the development group headed by Barletta Construction of using thousands of tons of contaminated soil from stockpile sites in Boston and Pawtucket to help build the redeveloped highway.
Barletta has not yet returned a request for comment.
The union claimed it did its own testing that showed the soil to be contaminated.
Col. Manni confirmed the state police are looking into the matter but declined to get into details about the investigation.
“We are working closely with RIDOT and RIDEM on this together,” he said.
Tim White (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Target 12 managing editor and chief investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for 12 News. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook.
Eli Sherman contributed to this report