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Friday, May 27, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesYELLOW CEDAR RESIDENTS WANT HEALTH INQUIRY

YELLOW CEDAR RESIDENTS WANT HEALTH INQUIRY

Residents of Yellow Cedar have requested an investigation into possible health effects caused by caliche dust from the nearby airport runway extension project at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport.
After residents near the runway complained of respiratory ailments, asthma aggravations, unusual allergies and excessive coughing – all apparently caused by "fugitive dust" from the project – the V.I. Port Authority board of directors voted unanimously to halt work. The Department of Planning and Natural Resources also issued a notice of violation to the Port Authority. DPNR’s order called for increased controls to mitigate the dust and told the Port Authority to come up with a plan to relocate the residents and to move them within two weeks.
As of late Friday, it was unclear if the Port Authority had met the conditions of the order. Meanwhile, V.I. Commissioner of Health Dr. Wilbur Callender and a delegation of other health officials visited Yellow Cedar on Friday.
"There is immediate concern about the long- and short-term effects of this exposure," Callender said. "However, since the project has been suspended the reported symptoms have been considerably reduced."
Ronald Russell, attorney for the Yellow Cedar Action Committee, said issues surrounding the dust and the resumption of the runway project are still being resolved.
"We were really pleased to see the commissioner of health out here responding to the residents," he said.
The four-phase runway extension project at the Henry H. Rohlsen Airport has been on the drawing board for years with the goal of accommodating larger, long-range aircraft operated by major airlines and charter operations. The $18-million project, in its first phase, will extend the existing runway from 7,600 feet to 10,000 feet and is 90 percent federally funded.
But to accommodate the extension and meet safety requirements some 65 families in Yellow Cedar have been or will be displaced. A similar situation occurred when the Port Authority had to take 18 properties when the existing runway was constructed.
After the project was halted because of the dust problem, Gordon Finch, executive director of the Port Authority, said the stoppage could threatened funding for the project. He also said he didn’t know when work would resume.
In the meantime, Callender told residents to avoid drinking cistern water and use a damp cloth or mop to remove dust particles that have accumulated inside their homes.
"We recognize that this is a health risk and we will look into all aspects of the situation from a public health perspective," he said.

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Residents of Yellow Cedar have requested an investigation into possible health effects caused by caliche dust from the nearby airport runway extension project at the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport.
After residents near the runway complained of respiratory ailments, asthma aggravations, unusual allergies and excessive coughing – all apparently caused by "fugitive dust" from the project – the V.I. Port Authority board of directors voted unanimously to halt work. The Department of Planning and Natural Resources also issued a notice of violation to the Port Authority. DPNR’s order called for increased controls to mitigate the dust and told the Port Authority to come up with a plan to relocate the residents and to move them within two weeks.
As of late Friday, it was unclear if the Port Authority had met the conditions of the order. Meanwhile, V.I. Commissioner of Health Dr. Wilbur Callender and a delegation of other health officials visited Yellow Cedar on Friday.
"There is immediate concern about the long- and short-term effects of this exposure," Callender said. "However, since the project has been suspended the reported symptoms have been considerably reduced."
Ronald Russell, attorney for the Yellow Cedar Action Committee, said issues surrounding the dust and the resumption of the runway project are still being resolved.
"We were really pleased to see the commissioner of health out here responding to the residents," he said.
The four-phase runway extension project at the Henry H. Rohlsen Airport has been on the drawing board for years with the goal of accommodating larger, long-range aircraft operated by major airlines and charter operations. The $18-million project, in its first phase, will extend the existing runway from 7,600 feet to 10,000 feet and is 90 percent federally funded.
But to accommodate the extension and meet safety requirements some 65 families in Yellow Cedar have been or will be displaced. A similar situation occurred when the Port Authority had to take 18 properties when the existing runway was constructed.
After the project was halted because of the dust problem, Gordon Finch, executive director of the Port Authority, said the stoppage could threatened funding for the project. He also said he didn’t know when work would resume.
In the meantime, Callender told residents to avoid drinking cistern water and use a damp cloth or mop to remove dust particles that have accumulated inside their homes.
"We recognize that this is a health risk and we will look into all aspects of the situation from a public health perspective," he said.