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News Release
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release:

November 22, 2000


Sally Spadaro 222-4700 ext. 2426
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418

Thefts of Safety Equipment Put Public at Risk

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management has announced the emergency closure of Dutch Island in Narragansett Bay to the public due to dangerous conditions posed by open and exposed bunkers and cisterns. The island will be reopened when the bunkers and cisterns are permanently closed, which should occur by next spring. Repeated attempts have been made by DEM staff to surround and cover a collapsed water cistern on the island with snow fencing and with bolted down marine plywood hatch covers. However, the materials have twice been stolen, and taken off island. The second theft occurred less than a week after the collapsed water cistern had been re-secured. Signs warning of the danger posed by open and exposed bunkers and cisterns, some containing water eight to ten feet deep, have similarly been stolen.

"These thefts are unconscionable, and put the public in great danger," said Malcolm Grant, Associate Director for DEM's Bureau of Natural Resources. "Because of those illegal and selfish actions, we have no choice but to forbid landings on the Island until the dangers can be alleviated to protect the public."

DEM is working with the Rhode Island National Guard to transport their construction equipment to the Island in order to permanently close the bunkers and cisterns. The equipment will be ferried to the island on huge barges. Although no specific time frame has been established, DEM hopes that the work can be completed by next spring.

Dutch Island is located in the East Passage of the Bay, just south of the Jamestown Bridge. For many years a US Army military installation, it was turned over to the state in 1962, and has been used by boaters for picnicking, hiking and hunting. DEM has filed emergency regulations prohibiting anyone from being on the Island without specific written permission of the director; violators can be fined $100 plus costs.

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