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EPA Reminds Rhode Islanders about Summer Safety Tips on Woonasquatucket River

05/22/2019
Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)
(617) 918-1017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Because summer weather will soon tempt local youth to find a place to swim, today the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reminding the public of important information on how to safely enjoy the Woonasquatucket River and remain protected from dioxin and other contaminants in and along the river.

Residents of Johnston, Providence, and North Providence should keep in mind that exposure to contamination in and along the river may pose a health risk. While progress has been made cleaning dioxin contaminated areas, EPA advises parents, teachers and camp counselors to make sure children remain protected from dioxin and other contaminants remaining in the water, sediment and soil.

EPA's New England office advises area residents to follow these precautions when spending time at the Woonasquatucket River:

  • Do not come into contact with the Woonasquatucket River water; this includes wading in shallow water or swimming in the river.
  • Wash thoroughly after any contact with the river water, sediment or soil.
  • Do not eat fish, turtles, eels, other wildlife or plants from the river.
  • Do not dig into the river banks.
  • Obey the warning signs posted along the river.

The public can safely walk, run or bike along the river and paddle a canoe or kayak on the river.

EPA continues to make progress cleaning up the river. In July 2018, the United States and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) entered into a settlement with two subsidiaries of Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. – Emhart Industries Inc. and Black & Decker, Inc. – who agreed to implement the September 2012 cleanup plan selected by EPA to clean up dioxin contaminated sediment and soil at the Centredale Manor Superfund Site.

The cleanup includes a cap over waste in the peninsula where the Centredale Manor and Brook Village apartment complexes are located and excavation of contaminated sediment and floodplain soil in the Allendale Pond, the large wetland below the Allendale Dam, and the Lyman Mill Pond. The contractor under EPA and RIDEM oversight has begun field activities in preparation to implement the cleanup plan. The cleanup will proceed in phases along the Woonasquatucket River from Route 44 down to the Lyman Mill Dam and will take 5-6 years to complete. Residents along the river can begin to see field crews and equipment related to the cleanup actions.

EPA will keep the residents updated as the cleanup progresses. This cleanup plan is available at the North Providence and Johnston public libraries. EPA is working closely with the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council to coordinate the cleanup with future restoration and public uses of the river.

More information: