Protesters Up Volume Against MedRecycler-RI

by | Mar 9, 2021

Above: Lee Steitz (left) and Catherine Constantino on Division Street Monday morning.

A virtual session to hear public comment takes place Monday

Lawn signs are starting to pop up around town in opposition to a proposed medical waste recycling facility looking to open at 1600 Division Road in West Warwick, just over the East Greenwich line. On Monday, some residents from East Greenwich, Warwick and Coventry took their protest to the intersection of Division and Route 2, standing on the corners with signs that read “No Medical Waste Facility,” in reference to the company MedRecycler-RI.

According to one of the “Keep Kent County Beautiful” organizers, Denise Lopez of East Greenwich, the protesters were hoping to raise awareness about the facility, which plans on using a high-heat technology called pyrolysis to melt the medical waste. Opponents say the technology, which has some use in the UK and South Africa but very little track record with medical waste, is dangerous and they are urging the Department of Environmental Management to deny the company a solid waste permit. DEM is holding a public hearing on Monday, March 15, where people can offer their comments about the company’s application.

At a virtual Q&A session in January conducted by DEM the company’s owner, Nick Campanella of New Jersey, argued the facility would generate electricity and reduce the amount of medical waste going to the landfill, as well as create jobs. He said there would only be four trucks bringing waste a day, but left the door open for more trucks and he said the trucks would not be inspected upon arrival since they would be using licensed haulers.

According to the pyrolysis manufacturer’s representative, the method is self-contained and there is no traditional smokestack, so there is little discharge. But environmentalists call pyrolysis a type of incineration, and they say that will result in harmful chemicals going into the air. 

At the protest on Monday, Catherine Constantino said this wasn’t about not wanting it in her backyard – rather it was about an unproven technology. Constantino lives in East Greenwich, although at the southern end, on the border with North Kingstown. She noted there was a daycare center nearby the facility and New England Tech and residential neighborhoods were also in close proximity.

Lee Steitz, who lives in Coventry, read about the protest on Next Door and mentioned it to her daughters because they happen to work at 1600 Division for MF Athletics – the building is 500,000 sq. feet; MedRecycle-RI would take up 48,000 sq feet. Asked if she was there Monday for her daughters, Steitz said yes, but added, “I’m concerned just having it in Rhode Island.”

DEM is holding a formal hearing on Medrecycler-RI’s application for a major source permit for water discharge on Monday, March 15. Interested parties can submit comments in advance of the hearing to DEM’s Office of Land Revitalization and Sustainable Materials Management (yan.li@dem.ri.gov). Here’s a DEM fact sheet about the project: Medrecycler Fact Sheet. You can find additional information about the project on their website HERE.

Previous EG News stories on Medrecycler-RI:

Caldwell, Valverde Opposed Proposed Medical Waste Facility
Public to Hear from Medrecycler Jan. 25
Town Handed 2 Legal Setbacks
West Warwick Medical Recycling Plant Would Use High Heat Technology
Town Appeals Permit for West Warwick Medical Waste Plant
EG Seeks More Input on Planned West Warwick Recycling Plant

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5 Comments

  1. SUSAN JACOBI-JOHNSON

    I just sent an email to the DEM contact referenced in the article. Then I contacted local family and friends, explained the issue, and asked them to do the same. Let’s “make some good trouble”, people, and bombard the DEM with commentary ahead of the March 15 meeting. They need to know there is strong community opposition.

    Reply
  2. Micheline Nilsen

    I sent an e-mail to DEM yesterday and it was promptly acknowledged.

    Reply
  3. Mary mcDonald

    Where I can I get a sign

    Reply
    • Elizabeth McNamara

      You might go to the Keep Kent County Beautiful Facebook page.

      Reply
  4. Fred

    All of you are an inspiration keeping the hope alive that people will not sit still and believe what is fed to them by industry. This facility is a dangerous operation and will pollute and contaminate the area around it. In the likely event of an accident, explosion or fire, the resulting pollution and chemical releases from the facility could make hundreds of people very sick. I have been involved in environmental issues for over thirty years. The area of incineration and this type of disposal are my focus. I consider this project to be an great example of what industry likes to call “latest technology” but educated people opposed call “industry’s latest experiment”. Resist all attempts by the planning board and other government agencies who are swayed by the tales told by this company to convince you of its safety. Kill this project once and for all as it is not safe in anybody’s backyard.

    Environmental Hazards – Are You Exposed?

    Reply

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