Miller bill would more closely regulate
scrap metal recycling facilities


STATE HOUSE – Sen. Joshua Miller has introduced legislation that would require scrap metal recycling facilities to comply with the same permit application process as construction debris processing facilities.

The bill would require such facilities to adhere to safety and zoning requirements before they can open or expand their facility or when renewing such licenses.

The legislation, if passed, would apply to Rhode Island Recycled Metals (RIRM) on Allens Avenue in Providence, for example, if the large scrap facility were to expand to a nearby property its owners recently purchased.

“As we have seen in our community, scrap metal facilities can present some risks and challenges to their surrounding neighborhood and the environment. They are managing large amounts of solid waste just as construction and demolition debris processing facilities are, and they should be licensed and regulated in the same way. They should not be allowed to get started, expand or have their licenses renewed unless they are willing to comply with our state and municipalities’ laws and regulations that maintain our safety and the integrity of our environment,” said Senator Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), who is the chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

The bill would subject scrap metal recycling facilities to the same regulations established by the Department of Environmental Management for construction and demolition debris processing facilities, including requirements that, in order to get a license, it must obtain a letter from its host municipality affirming it meets zoning requirements and is complying with all local ordinances, and it must submit a fire protection plan approved by the local fire chief.

Under the existing chapter of law governing such facilities, if an applicant for expansion or renewal is issued a letter of noncompliance that is upheld after an appeal, its license could be revoked.  Additionally, under the bill, the local fire chief could conduct random, announced inspections to ensure compliance with the approved fire protection plan. Facilities found to be in violation of their fire protection plans on three separate inspections within three years, shall have their licenses revoked.

RIRM in Providence has been the subject of many violation complaints by the state dating back to early in its operations, when in 2012, the Department of Environmental Management cited it for failing to manage storm water runoff from its property, which is on the Providence River waterfront at the head of Narragansett Bay. The company has been brought to court on numerous environmental and business violations and there remain ongoing violation complaints.