State Rep Says Pawtuxet River Should Be Protected

Several bills were introduced on Tuesday which target a controversial industrial site in Warwick.

The owners of the former Hammel Dahl valve factory property on Post Road want to build storage units, but a group of neighbors who use the nearby Pawtuxet River Trail have opposed the effort. While the trail land is private, state Representative Joseph McNamara is proposing a bill that would permit the Department of Environmental Management to recognize and identify public rights-of-way to shoreline and water access for land owned by a private party.

“More frequent flooding due to climate change will have a contributing effect on the threat that this site poses to human health and the environment,” said Representative McNamara. “The 2010 flood was described as a ‘100-year flood.’ Last year, 15 inches of rain fell in a few hours, flooding and closing Interstate 95 in Providence. If this storm had occurred two miles southwest, it would have led to a major flooding event as defined by the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration. My concern is that the PCBs and other toxic chemicals that are currently sequestered and capped will permeate the sand and wells located at this site and migrate into the river and its sediment.”

Another McNamara bill would amend the definition of solid waste to include PVC pipes, which would force the removal of materials that have remained at the factory site.

“This legislation is designed to protect pathways and trails that have been historically used as access to waterways by the public,” said Representative McNamara. “It would give the director authority, based on several criteria spelled out in the legislation, to designate rights-of-way to our navigable rivers.”

No dates for hearings have been scheduled yet.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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