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Rhode Island Waste Agreement Will Be Settled in Arbitration

Friday, April, 29, 2016

The North Smithfield Town Council voted unanimously to file for arbitration after alleging Woonsocket breached a contract that related to a regional waste agreement. North Smithfield claims Woonsocket reduced flow capacity at the Cumberland Hill Road treatment plant, which was just the latest event in an ongoing battle over waste treatment in the area.


Woonsocket is attempting to get the town of North Smithfield to commit to a 20 year agreement that concerns use of the waste treatment facility and includes $200,000 in host fees. The town has refused the deal so far, which has led to Woonsocket authorities saying they will cut off North Smithfield’s access to the plant. City officials have already taken action in the matter.


There are more than 4000 users in the town depending on the treatment plant. Studies show that North Smithfield has few options and that the cost of building a new plant for itself would be far more expensive than the fees proposed by Woonsocket’s offer.


According to the North Smithfield Town Council President, the town has relied on Woonsocket’s treatment plant, but the city is now abusing its monopoly of power.


In addition to North Smithfield, two other towns use the plant. Both Blackstone and Bellingham have signed agreements that include the fees. However, at least one member of the Blackstone Board of Selectmen is asking the agreement be revisited. Blackstone users are billed approximately $42,000 annually for their use of the treatment plant. Until recently, all four towns were operating under an expired contract from 1977.