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HomeNewsArchivesEPA PUTS PRESSURE ON LANDFILL MANAGEMENT

EPA PUTS PRESSURE ON LANDFILL MANAGEMENT

Editor’s note: According to Jim Casey, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s V.I.. coordinator, the agency has determined that the V.I. government has not met the conditions to implement a satisfactory solid waste regulatory program. A regulatory program, which would be implemented by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, entails permitting, inspection and enforcement of federal regulations at landfill facilities. At the territory’s landfills DPNR would have oversight of the Department of Public Works, the operator of the local facilities.
After years of failure by the Virgin Islands to manage solid-waste facilities according to agreements with the federal government, the Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that it was on the verge of taking regulatory oversight of local landfills.
At a session of the Senate Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection in Frederiksted, the EPA’s Jim Casey said the V.I. government should have been in compliance at Department of Public Works landfills on St. Croix and St. Thomas and the transfer station on St. John four years ago.
Casey said a design and management plan that complies "with provisions of the law should have been realized in October 1996."
"The EPA is very concerned . . . in that the Anguilla and Bovoni Landfills and the Susannaberg Transfer Station aren’t in compliance . . . with required criteria," he said. "The EPA has determined we are not going to approve the Virgin Islands’ regulatory program" if there is no any progress, he said.
"The authority of the territory to regulate the landfills will come under the auspices of the EPA," he said.
Dean Plaskett, commissioner of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, said his agency has spearheaded the task of putting together a regulatory program that will meet federal requirements.
"There are still some things we can do in the interim," Plaskett said. "It is not a done deal we aren’t going to get a certified program."
Casey said the EPA had issued two enforcement actions against the government for Clean Water Act violations and wetlands concerns at the Bovoni Landfill on St. Thomas. The decree calls for Public Works to clean up soil saturated with oil and solvents and used batteries. Toxic chemicals in the soil are running off into nearby Mangrove Lagoon, Casey said.
"Unfortunately, the Department of Public Works hasn’t been diligent in meeting provisions it entered into," he said. "The activities at Bovoni Landfill has caused great displeasure for those . . . who have been working with Public Works.
"In a nutshell," continued Casey, "we’re hoping to provide assistance but also escalate the enforcement as necessary."
Public Works Commissioner Harold Thompson Jr. said his department was set to circulate a request for proposals on solid-waste management facilities on St. Croix and St. Thomas.
"We can’t afford to mess up this time, because the landfills of the Virgin Islands have a lifespan alarm clock ticking, which will sound off in a little over four years," Thompson said. "Added to that scenario is yet another alarm clock owned by the Federal Aviation Agency, which can send some serious financial signals to our economy."
Thompson was referring to the FAA’s order to have the Anguilla Landfill closed by the end of 2002 because of its proximity to the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport. Birds, and smoke from frequent fires at the dump, pose a threat to aircraft.
Thompson said construction and start-up of the first solid-waste facility, which will be on St. Croix, is estimated to take two and a half years.

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Editor’s note: According to Jim Casey, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s V.I.. coordinator, the agency has determined that the V.I. government has not met the conditions to implement a satisfactory solid waste regulatory program. A regulatory program, which would be implemented by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, entails permitting, inspection and enforcement of federal regulations at landfill facilities. At the territory’s landfills DPNR would have oversight of the Department of Public Works, the operator of the local facilities.
After years of failure by the Virgin Islands to manage solid-waste facilities according to agreements with the federal government, the Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that it was on the verge of taking regulatory oversight of local landfills.
At a session of the Senate Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection in Frederiksted, the EPA’s Jim Casey said the V.I. government should have been in compliance at Department of Public Works landfills on St. Croix and St. Thomas and the transfer station on St. John four years ago.
Casey said a design and management plan that complies "with provisions of the law should have been realized in October 1996."
"The EPA is very concerned . . . in that the Anguilla and Bovoni Landfills and the Susannaberg Transfer Station aren’t in compliance . . . with required criteria," he said. "The EPA has determined we are not going to approve the Virgin Islands’ regulatory program" if there is no any progress, he said.
"The authority of the territory to regulate the landfills will come under the auspices of the EPA," he said.
Dean Plaskett, commissioner of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, said his agency has spearheaded the task of putting together a regulatory program that will meet federal requirements.
"There are still some things we can do in the interim," Plaskett said. "It is not a done deal we aren’t going to get a certified program."
Casey said the EPA had issued two enforcement actions against the government for Clean Water Act violations and wetlands concerns at the Bovoni Landfill on St. Thomas. The decree calls for Public Works to clean up soil saturated with oil and solvents and used batteries. Toxic chemicals in the soil are running off into nearby Mangrove Lagoon, Casey said.
"Unfortunately, the Department of Public Works hasn’t been diligent in meeting provisions it entered into," he said. "The activities at Bovoni Landfill has caused great displeasure for those . . . who have been working with Public Works.
"In a nutshell," continued Casey, "we’re hoping to provide assistance but also escalate the enforcement as necessary."
Public Works Commissioner Harold Thompson Jr. said his department was set to circulate a request for proposals on solid-waste management facilities on St. Croix and St. Thomas.
"We can’t afford to mess up this time, because the landfills of the Virgin Islands have a lifespan alarm clock ticking, which will sound off in a little over four years," Thompson said. "Added to that scenario is yet another alarm clock owned by the Federal Aviation Agency, which can send some serious financial signals to our economy."
Thompson was referring to the FAA’s order to have the Anguilla Landfill closed by the end of 2002 because of its proximity to the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport. Birds, and smoke from frequent fires at the dump, pose a threat to aircraft.
Thompson said construction and start-up of the first solid-waste facility, which will be on St. Croix, is estimated to take two and a half years.