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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, July 1, 2022
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SENATE FINALLY ADDRESSING ENVIRO LAWS

The V.I. government is almost finished strengthening its water pollution laws, seven years after it met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and agreed to do so.
Sen. Adelbert Bryan said at Friday’s meeting of the Senate Committee on Planning and Natural Resources that the move should have come decades ago.
"I think the proposal . . . is at least 30 to 40 years late," he said.
The "proposal" was committee chairman Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg’s bill to amend the V.I.’s Water Pollution Control Act to bring the local law into conformity with the federal act and allow the V.I. government to keep money collected from environmental fines.
In 1993, said the EPA’s Jim Casey, hs agency and the V.I. government discussed how to bring the territory into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. The V.I. agreed to amend the local act, he said, but a "compliance schedule came and passed."
"It will be a major accomplishment to bring the V.I. . . . into conformity," Carey said.
Donastorg’s bill, which would give the territory access to increased federal aid to meet environmental mandates, was tabled for 30 days for fine-tuning before it goes to the Rules Committee.
"We need to craft legislation that is particular to our concerns," said Devin Carrington, attorney for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources’ Division of Environmental Protection. "What it can’t be is less stringent than federal law."
As senators discussed local pollution, the focus quickly turned to the Department of Public Works, the agency that operates the wastewater system. Public Works has been waging a losing war to keep an antiquated sewage system from failing completely, particularly on St. Croix.
Pressed by Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste, Carrington said Public Works was probably the territory’s worst pollution offender. A problem area for sewage spills is the LBJ pump station on St. Croix. Because of old, unmaintained pumps and the inflow of storm water into an antiquated sewage collection system, the pump station has been discharging up to 200,000 gallons a day into the sea beyond Long Reef.
"The Water Pollution Control Act has been violated many times," Carrington said. "The bypass at LBJ has been continual since August. And it’s still happening."
Public Works Commissioner Harold Thompson said that by early next week "we should hopefully begin to see some steps taken to see this end."
Although Public Works recently accessed $130,000 to fix the problems at the LBJ and Figtree pump stations, Carrington said the discharges continue. But when the Division of Environmental Protection fines the agency, which it has done to the tune of $2 million-plus, "the cry we hear is, 'We ain’t got no money.'"
Baptiste recommended jail time for public employees whose failures on the job result in violations of environmental laws.
"I agree," said Carrington. "There are people whose feet should be held to the fire. And that’s not being done."

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The V.I. government is almost finished strengthening its water pollution laws, seven years after it met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and agreed to do so.
Sen. Adelbert Bryan said at Friday’s meeting of the Senate Committee on Planning and Natural Resources that the move should have come decades ago.
"I think the proposal . . . is at least 30 to 40 years late," he said.
The "proposal" was committee chairman Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg’s bill to amend the V.I.’s Water Pollution Control Act to bring the local law into conformity with the federal act and allow the V.I. government to keep money collected from environmental fines.
In 1993, said the EPA’s Jim Casey, hs agency and the V.I. government discussed how to bring the territory into compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. The V.I. agreed to amend the local act, he said, but a "compliance schedule came and passed."
"It will be a major accomplishment to bring the V.I. . . . into conformity," Carey said.
Donastorg’s bill, which would give the territory access to increased federal aid to meet environmental mandates, was tabled for 30 days for fine-tuning before it goes to the Rules Committee.
"We need to craft legislation that is particular to our concerns," said Devin Carrington, attorney for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources’ Division of Environmental Protection. "What it can’t be is less stringent than federal law."
As senators discussed local pollution, the focus quickly turned to the Department of Public Works, the agency that operates the wastewater system. Public Works has been waging a losing war to keep an antiquated sewage system from failing completely, particularly on St. Croix.
Pressed by Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste, Carrington said Public Works was probably the territory’s worst pollution offender. A problem area for sewage spills is the LBJ pump station on St. Croix. Because of old, unmaintained pumps and the inflow of storm water into an antiquated sewage collection system, the pump station has been discharging up to 200,000 gallons a day into the sea beyond Long Reef.
"The Water Pollution Control Act has been violated many times," Carrington said. "The bypass at LBJ has been continual since August. And it’s still happening."
Public Works Commissioner Harold Thompson said that by early next week "we should hopefully begin to see some steps taken to see this end."
Although Public Works recently accessed $130,000 to fix the problems at the LBJ and Figtree pump stations, Carrington said the discharges continue. But when the Division of Environmental Protection fines the agency, which it has done to the tune of $2 million-plus, "the cry we hear is, 'We ain’t got no money.'"
Baptiste recommended jail time for public employees whose failures on the job result in violations of environmental laws.
"I agree," said Carrington. "There are people whose feet should be held to the fire. And that’s not being done."