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7/7/2021 Rep. Serpa calls ban on medical waste incinerators a welcome protection to the community
STATE HOUSE — Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick), who cosponsored legislation (2021-H 5923Aaa) to prohibit new medical waste incinerators near residential neighborhoods, schools, nursing facilities and delicate environmental areas, is thanking her fellow lawmakers for enacting it into law.

The new law, which was Representative Serpa’s priority this legislative session, comes in the wake of a proposal to build a medical waste facility along Division Road bordering the towns of West Warwick and East Greenwich just across the street from New England Institute of Technology and behind a child care center.

The proposal had garnered much opposition, particularly from residents in the area who were concerned about the potential health risks and increased traffic from trucks. The proposed facility drew hours of testimony opposing it during a Department of Environmental Management hearing on its solid waste facility license application, including many community members from East Greenwich and West Warwick, abutting businesses, environmental advocates and elected officials. Attorney General Peter F. Neronha had called for the approval process to be suspended until the developer proves the technology is safe for the environmental and public health

“Pyrolysis, which uses high heat to break down materials like plastics, is not ordinarily used for medical waste,” said Representative Serpa. “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, and people in residential areas shouldn’t be asked to become test subjects for new technologies and potentially dangerous situations.”

The legislation prohibits the approval of licenses for any high-heat medical processing facility located within 2,000 feet of water, open space, parks, floodplains, flood hazard areas; or within one mile of pre-existing public or private schools, colleges, child care facilities, assisted living facilities, nursing facilities or areas zoned for residential use; or within any municipality designated in whole or in part as an environmental justice municipality. 

“I thank my fellow state representatives and the members of the Senate for agreeing that this untested technology is too dangerous to allow so close to homes and children.”

For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903