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Burrillville residents speak out against proposed power plant

Whether it was the signs on their cars, the stickers on their shirts, or the tone in the packed auditorium, most of the people who attended the hearing made it clear that they don't care how much revenue the power plant would bring to Burrillville. (WJAR)

"We already have one power plant here. The town of Burrillville has done its part."

More than 500 people packed Burrillville High School Monday night for a public hearing about a proposed power plant.

Whether it was the signs on their cars, the stickers on their shirts, or the tone in the packed auditorium, most of the people who attended the hearing made it clear that they don't care how much revenue the plant would bring to Burrillville. They argued that the plant would have negative health and environmental effects.

They also said they already have one plant -- and don't want another one.

"I want to know who's going to be held accountable for the repercussions or consequences when something goes wrong," Burrillville resident John Scott said during the hearing.

Others shared similar sentiments.

"I beg of you -- try to do everything in your power for us -- kill this plant," Ken Putnam, another resident, said. "We don't need it."

Invenergy, a Chicago-based company, wants to build a $700 million gas-fired power plant, known as the Clean River Energy Center.

Burrillville has had its share of environmental concerns. Years ago, a synthetic chemical known as MBTE, contaminated the well water. The well has been sealed ever since.

Invenergy said it would remediate the well if it builds the plant, but many are concerned doing that would make things worse.

"There's a lot of things that could go wrong, in fact," Jason Olkowski said. "Pipes leak. That's what happens, and so the people in this town have a very long history with MBTE and their water."

Others see the benefits of the project. It promises to bring 300 construction jobs, as well as about two dozen permanents jobs, and, of course, tax revenue.

"A financially solvent town is better able to fund police and fire protection, better schools and infrastructure improvements," said David Esten.

The state's energy facility siting board has the ultimate say in whether the plant is built.

The group hopes to make a decision by February.

In the meantime, they're holding more public hearings.

Those against the plant aren't backing down, as they plant to hold a rally at the Rhode Island State House on Thursday.

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