Providence metal recycling plant avoids environmental disaster after fire

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PROVIDENCE — After a fire broke out at Rhode Island Recycled Metals on April 10, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management conducted an inspection to assess potential environmental damage and the effectiveness of pollution controls.

The survey revealed that despite the blaze, no oil sheens were detected in the water near the site at 434 Allens Ave.

Current pollution controls, including hay booms on land and a hard boom in the water, remained intact.

The hard boom successfully trapped some debris, primarily small Styrofoam fragments and wood chips, which may have been dislodged due to fire suppression efforts.

A member of the Office of Emergency Response, part of DEM’s hazmat team, arrived at the scene after 1 a.m. and observed Providence firefighters quelling flames that engulfed a pile of discarded home appliances.

The hazmat official confirmed that water runoff from the firefighting was being corralled by the boom system.

Further environmental scrutiny was conducted by a DEM meteorologist this morning, who reviewed weather data from the Port of Providence.

Around midnight, as the fire raged, light east-southeast winds posed a potential risk of carrying low-level pollutants toward the DEM-RIDOH air quality monitoring site at the CCRI Providence campus.

However, the air monitors did not register any unusual levels of PM 2.5 or black carbon, with all readings falling within the expected range for the area and time.

Despite the lack of immediate evidence for environmental harm, DEM remains vigilant.

The department will continue to monitor the situation and evaluate the impact on surrounding communities.

In collaboration with Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office, DEM will investigate any complaints or suspected infringements of environmental statutes stemming from the incident.

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