Environment

Something Stinks: ecoRI’s environmental news roundup

Racist Remarks Sink Raimondo’s DEM Nominee

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s nominee for an important post that offers a $130,692 salary for settling disputed permits and penalties had little environmental law experience to recommend him for a job, but Thomas A. DiLuglio’s nomination was yanked only after it was discovered that had posted racist content on his blog.

DiLuglio, whom the governor nominated as hearing officer for the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s Division of Administrative Adjudication, submitted background information to the Senate, in which he referenced his blog where he comments on current events and historical issues, including on the topics of race and slavery. Yes, he actually submitted his blog.

In a March 9, 2019 post under the heading “Black Plague,” he described black people as “a social subspecies.” In the same post under the heading “Black Lives Under (Friendly?) Fire,” he called it “negligence beyond compare” that the black community fails to instruct its youth to “respect the power of the police if not the inherent, overwhelming authority of the State.”

Can You Smell That Smell?

You’ve probably smelled it in the Jewelry District, in South Providence or when driving along I-95. That acrid asphalt smell. Who dealt it? 

Sprague Operating Resources LLC, responsible for noxious odors at the Port of Providence and across New England, is close to a settlement with the Department of Justice, but the deal isn’t sitting well with one environmental group.

The Conservation Law Foundation says the punishment is too light and will do little to improve air quality for people subject to toxic pollution from the company’s storage of oil and other substances.

In a proposed agreement, the Department of Justice is fining Sprague $350,000 for excessive emissions of volatile organic compounds from oil tanks at facilities in Providence; Everett, Quincy, and New Bedford, Mass; Searsport and South Portland, Maine; and Newington, NH. The settlement also requires Sprague to take measures to reduce air pollution at each facility.

If the deal is approved, the Sprague tank facility on Allens Avenue in Providence would only be allowed to store asphalt in three heated tanks. No. 6 residual fuel would be prohibited from the waterfront site. The facility also would be limited to receiving and storing 90 million gallons of asphalt annually. Similar restrictions are being ordered at the six other New England facilities where Sprague has committed pollution violations.

Quarry Quibbles Over Violation Fine

More than three months ago, DEM told Hopkins Hill Sand & Stone to knock it off. The West Greenwich quarry appealed, and the Cardi Corp. subsidiary is still operating illegally and polluting a nearby conservation area.

In late February, DEM issued a notice of violation (NOV) to Hopkins Hill Sand & Stone LLC and Hopkins Hill Road Realty LLC for environmental violations arising from the mining of sand and stone at a facility on New London Turnpike. They had 90 days to respond.

Hopkins Hill Sand & Stone operates the mining and processing facility at a site that abuts the Big River Management Area, a 8,319-acre conservation area that features streams, wetlands and the Big, Nooseneck, Congdon and Carr rivers.

The NOV charged both parties with violating Rhode Island’s Water Pollution Control Act and state water-quality and pollutant-discharge elimination system regulations. The enforcement action included a $67,896 penalty. It also required the parties to immediately cease discharging all processed water and stormwater from the facility to nearby wetlands until a permit is issued and all the required controls are installed and operational.

No corrective actions have reportedly been executed. Quarry runoff is still a problem. The fine hasn’t been paid. In fact, Hopkins Hill Sand & Stone has been operating without a Rhode Island pollutant discharge elimination system permit for 16 years.

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