In a continuing effort to stop high heat waste treatment facilities in Rhode Island, East Greenwich state legislators Sen. Bridget Valverde (Dist. 35) and Rep. Justine Caldwell (Dist. 30) held a press event at the State House Thursday afternoon shortly before a Senate hearing on the Valverde’s bill to ban such facilities. The bill, and Caldwell’s twin bill in the House, would stop all such facilities, including MedRecycler-RI, which is proposed for just over the EG border in West Warwick off Division Road.
According to MedRecycler owner Nicholas Campanella, the method they plan to use – pyrolysis – would use high heat to essentially melt medical waste products (mostly plastic) in a safe, contained facility. Campanella has said the method is not incineration, which is no longer allowed in Rhode Island.
But Valverde and Caldwell, as well as Conservation Law Foundation’s Kevin Budris, say pyrolysis is just incineration by another name and that to allow MedRecycler to set up shop in West Warwick would simply open the door to other such facilities.
The proposed facility is not a done deal.
Currently, the state Dept. of Environmental Management (DEM) is weighing whether or not to grant MedRecycler a solid waste permit, and the West Warwick Planning Board also has yet to approve the facility. Additionally, the Town of East Greenwich has sued DEM over its earlier decision to grant MedRecycler an air pollution permit, arguing it should have been allowed to weigh in on that application.
Valverde and Caldwell said Thursday their legislation, if passed, would be able to stop MedRecycler, since it has not yet obtained the necessary permits. But they said the larger intent was to prohibit such facilities in general in the state.
While many in East Greenwich and neighboring communities have mobilized to fight MedRecycler, Sen. Frank Lombardo (Dist. 25) has proposed legislation that would exempt byproducts from facilities such as MedRecycler from solid waste regulations, citing the need to keep plastic out of landfills. (Watch Lombardo’s testimony here, 29 minutes in; Sen. Valverde’s testimony on her bill immediately follows.)