By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
EAST PROVIDENCE — The state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is turning the screws on a controversial construction waste recycler.
The DEM sent notice Dec. 14 to TLA Pond View demanding that the company file overdue paperwork with the state by Jan. 4 or have its license to operate yanked.
The late paperwork is a letter of compliance from the city, which DEM first asked for July 26. The city, however, hasn't issued the letter due to zoning violations relating to the amount and type of construction waste the company processes.
Nearby residents, city officials and advocacy groups have long complained about the spread of lead and toxins from the dust created by the processing of construction waste at the Dexter Road facility. Despite Statehouse protests and several anti-Pond View public hearings, DEM allowed the company in May to expand its operation by up 10 times its current volume of waste.
DEM said the facility has met all regulations, but lacks the compliance letter from the city — thus putting the company in danger of operating illegally.
Dust from the grinding of construction material such as pressure-treated wood releases lead paint and asbestos, according to the Boston-based Toxics Action Center (TAC). The dust settles on nearby properties, including a playground and the Myron J. Francis Elementary School. Residents have complained of respiratory illness, headaches and nausea, according to the advocacy group. There also are concerns that Omega Pond, which Pond View draws water from for its operations, is polluted.
"The last year has been a roller coaster for local residents," said Taryn Hallweaver, Rhode Island community organizer for TAC. But DEM's recent action, she said, is a significant plus for the campaign. "They've been dragging their feet for the last six months, but we're grateful that they are finally stepped up to enforce the law."
"It's really a victory for the people of East Providence," said Jo-Ann Durfee of the East Providence Prevention Coalition, who lives about 700 feet from the TLA Pond View facility. She, Hallweather and other residents plan to meet with DEM on Dec. 16 to make sure the state agency keeps up enforcement.
"We're not giving up," Durfee said.
TLA Pond View has challenged the Zoning Board ruling and the case is currently in state Superior Court. A call to company officials wasn't returned.