EAST PROVIDENCE — Three members of the East Providence Coalition met with Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Assistant Director Terry Gray and legal counsel Richard Bianculli in Providence on Friday to discuss DEM's recent notice of intent to suspend the license held by TLA-Pond View Recycling Facility.
Among the attendees: Coalition co-founder/president Ken Schneider, Jo-Ann Durfee and Tim Norton, as well as Toxics Action Center representative Taryn Hallweaver. During the meeting, DEM clarified exactly what a suspended license would mean for the construction and demolition debris recycling facility, and to the Rumford residents who say TLA-Pond View's operation has adversely affected their health for well over a decade.
According to Hallweaver and Durfee, the notice of intent wouldn't just bring the facility's operation down to 500 tons per day (the tonnage allowed under its previous license), or drop it to 150 tons per day (the amount allowed under its current local zoning variance), but would cease operations altogether.
Last Wednesday, DEM Director Janet Coit sent the notice of intent for suspension to TLA-Pond View Regional Vice President Jack Walsh, and it stated the company had until Jan. 4 to produce a letter of compliance
from the city certifying that it was and is operating in accordance with all local ordinances.
City officials had mailed a “letter of non-compliance” to DEM on Oct. 26, that after the East Providence Zoning Board of Review had voted unanimously (5-0) to uphold Zoning Officer Ed Pimental's notice of violations and cease-and-desist order to TLA-Pond View.
“It's just like if your driver's license is taken away,” explained Hallweaver after the meeting. “The cop's not going to tell you, 'You can keep driving, (but) just don't drive any faster than 25 mph.' If your driver's license is taken away, you can't get behind the wheel at all.
“We were able to clarify what the notice of intent really meant,” she added. “East Providence residents were wondering if it would just bring the operation down to 500 tons or down to 150 tons per day, but we discovered it means zero tons per day.
“Obviously, we were pleased the DEM wanted to take the strongest possible action. The DEM has only issued three such notices of intent in its history, which is a very long time. We'll see what happens.”
Norton deemed the session, which lasted about an hour, rather productive.
“We appreciated an open dialogue with DEM, and (we) look forward to seeing action taken in the near future,” he said.
Ultimately, this is an issue that may end up in Superior Court, and residents who have experienced health problems from the dust, stench and truck traffic entering and leaving the facility are urging city officials to request an expedited hearing.
“While this drags on and on in the courts, hundreds of families are still suffering every day from the pollution, excessively loud noise and odor coming from TLA-Pond View,” Durfee noted. “I thought it was really productive. We got our questions answered, and we're look forward as coalition members to working with DEM in the future.”