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Casino proposal across state lines raises environmental concerns

In a small corner of our state, the city of Fall River is up against a big decision that could affect where they get water in case of emergency. Unfortunately, the decision is being made across state lines in Rhode Island, where zoning and land use laws may differ from here in Massachusetts. The hope now is that officials across state lines will take all environmental concerns into consideration, even if it does not affect the state where the decision is taking place.

Some of our Worcester readers may have heard about Fall River's possible plight, which has come about because of a proposal to build a casino near the town of Tiverton, Rhode Island. Although the casino's operators promise to avoid the brook that supplies emergency water to the town of Fall River, the Department of Environmental Management says it has not received a proposal yet for the area. This begs the question: are casino operators putting environmental concerns behind the promotion of their building?

This remains to be seen. What some of our Worcester readers may know is that before construction can begin on the proposed site, the casino's operators will first need to submit an environmental impact study to the DEM for analysis. Depending on the study, the DEM could determine that the casino would have too big of an impact on the environment, such as too much salt run off from roadways or that it would disrupt the wetlands that feed the brook used as a water supply for both Tiverton and Fall River.

In the end, the DEM could put a halt to the project, possibly saving Fall River's emergency water supply and protecting the environment from a negative impact.

Source: The Providence Journal, "As Tiverton officials mull proposed casino, maze of wetlands through site poses environmental challenges," Katherine Gregg, April 21, 2015

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