DEM denies medical waste to energy facility permit“We knew the proposal to burn medical waste in our community was bad news. Application denied!” tweeted State Senator Bridget Valverde. “And with the new law passed by me, @Justine4RI, and our colleagues, it can’t go anywhere else in our state.”
Published on July 14, 2021
By Steve Ahlquist
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced Tuesday that it has denied the permit application of Medrecycler-RI Inc to build a medical waste-to-energy plant at 1600 Division Road in West Warwick. You can read the denial here.
DEM cited the following factors in denying the application:
- The proposal did not include adequate details about testing protocols, necessary for public review, as part of the permit review process for a medical waste treatment plant.
- The proposal’s contingency and response plans – what happens in the event of an emergency? – are incomplete. Many of the 400+ members of the public who commented during the application’s comment period cited concerns about the proposal’s lack of strong environmental monitoring and safety plans. DEM shares these concerns.
- Related, DEM found the proposal’s lack of clarity about how much and where medical waste would be safely stored to be a critical deficiency in the application. This impacts the proposed operation, monitoring requirements, contingency planning, and closure assurances.
- The facility is proposed in a densely populated area close to residential neighborhoods, making the public review of the contingency plans and testing protocols even more relevant. There is no buffer between the proposed facility and other tenants located at that address and little buffer between the facility and surrounding community.
- Uncertainty over the impacts of the proposed facility’s innovative technology. This proposed system has not previously been used on medical waste.
The facility, originally proposed for Johnston, took aim at the West Warwick location over a year ago and was issued a conditional permit by DEM. Opposition to the facility developed swiftly, even despite Covid, with the Rhode Island Attorney General expressing concerns and the Rhode Island General Assembly passing legislation outlawing high heat medical waste facilities in the state. Governor Daniel McKee signed the bill into law July 9.
“The Department of Environmental Management made the right decision in denying the permit application for the proposed medical waste treatment facility in West Warwick, and I am grateful for their close review of a proposal that would have impacted many Rhode Islanders,” said Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha in a statement. “Several months ago, my Office expressed our concerns about the significant environmental and public health impacts that the waste treatment facility presented to surrounding communities. This decision is an apt example of the benefit of having a comprehensive state regulatory process that includes robust public input.”
“The Department believes that regardless of the deficiencies in the application outlined above, this law would prohibit the Department from issuing or granting a permit or license for this proposed facility,” DEM wrote in its denial.
The story may not be over. Ted Nesi reports that Medrecycler Inc is considering legal action.
Articles about the proposed Medrecyler facility:
- New law puts strong restrictions on new high-heat medical waste incineration facilities
- Attorney General Neronha expresses concerns over West Warwick Medrecycler pyrolysis facility
- RI House weighs outlawing pyrolysis and high heat waste processing
- Jim Mullowney: MedRecycler RI will expose our families to extremely hazardous chemicals that cause birth defects and cancer
- All the video from the DEM hearing on proposed pyrolysis medical waste to energy facility
- MedRecycler to Be Financed w/$17 Million in R.I. Tax-Exempt Bonds
- Local groups lead charge against medical waste to energy facilities in Rhode Island
- Is turning waste plastic into fuel the answer to our waste management and energy woes?
- Senator Valverde and Rep Caldwell oppose medical waste burning proposal on East Greenwich line
- Representative Serpa opposes medical waste to fuel pyrolysis facility
- Sponsors of bill to ban high-heat waste incineration facilities hit back against MedRecycler’s lobbyists
- RI leaders are falling for the perpetual motion machine scam
- ecoRI: Proposed Medical Waste Facility has Neighbors on Edge
- ecoRI: DEM Issues Conditional Permit to West Warwick Medical-Waste-to-Energy Facility
- EGNews: Town Appeals Permit for West Warwick Medical Waste Plant
- The specter of Invenergy haunts the Johnston Inauguration
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