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Representative Serpa opposes medical waste to fuel pyrolysis facility

“It isn’t fully understood what sort of ecological impact this new form of waste disposal will have on the West Warwick and East Greenwich environment,” writes representative Serpa, “and the people of the area aren’t willing to become test subjects for new technologies and potentially dangerous situations.”

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Once again, our community is being asked to welcome a neighbor we hardly even know. This time, it’s a medical waste facility that would be built along Division Road bordering the towns of West Warwick and East Greenwich just across the street from New England Tech.

The company, MedRecycler, seems to be on track to opening its facility, which would accept 70 tons of medical waste daily from across New England and burn it at extreme temperatures through a process called “pyrolysis,” which turns the waste into energy, along with oil and tar byproducts.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has indicated that it intends to approve a major source permit for water discharge. Meanwhile residents in the area are concerned, scared, even outraged that they have had very little say in this process.

Although the facility in question is zoned as industrial, anyone familiar with the area knows that it is very close to several housing developments and just behind a daycare center. Residents in the area are understandably upset about the potential health risks and increased traffic from trucks.

Pyrolysis, which uses high heat to break down materials like plastics, is not ordinarily used for medical waste, and residents have a lot of questions without getting a lot of answers. I strongly urge all residents who share these concerns to weigh in on the proposal during the public comment period for the DEM application.


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Promises and assurances do very little to check the realities of emissions, accidents, and other inherent dangers that these sorts of facilities bring to the community. It isn’t fully understood what sort of ecological impact this new form of waste disposal will have on the West Warwick and East Greenwich environment, and the people of the area aren’t willing to become test subjects for new technologies and potentially dangerous situations.


A formal public comment meeting will be held on Zoom on Monday, March 15, at 4pm.

For the Zoom link and more information, visit here.

DEM will also accept written comments until April 14. Written comments can be submitted to:

Department of Environmental Management
Office of Land Revitalization and Sustainable Materials Management
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908
Attention: Yan Li; Email: yan.li@dem.ri.gov


Previous reports on the pyrolysis facility:

About the Author

Patricia Serpa is the state representative from House District 27 serving West Warwick, Coventry and Warwick.