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Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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LANDFILL BLAZE FINALLY OUT

The territory’s latest landfill blaze was tamed over the weekend, more than four days after igniting last week.
The fire at St. Croix’s Anguilla Landfill was brought under control and "totally extinguished" Sunday, said St. Croix Fire Chief Roberto Santos.
"There is no smoke at this time," Santos said Monday. "Everything seems to be under control."
The fire was at least the fifth at the problem-plagued dump this year. The last one ignited on March 24 and burned for two days before being put out.
In addition to the full-fledged fires, there have been at least a half-dozen flare-ups. The likely cause is the ignition of methane gas generated by decomposing garbage.
While the surface fire has been put out, Dean Plaskett, commissioner of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, said his agency still has concerns about the Department of Public Works’ operating procedures at the dump. DPNR is the regulatory agency charged with enforcing rules and regulations concerning solid waste management in the territory; Public Works manages the landfills.
"We are of the position that the surface fire" is out, Plaskett said. "We are still concerned about the subsurface methane fires that continue to burn."
Plaskett said Public Works was violating several conditions of its landfill permit, including the lack of a fence around the entire site and the failure to lay down and compact daily at least six inches of fill dirt atop garbage.
By hiring a solid-waste specialist DPNR has taken steps to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mandates for an acceptable local waste management plan, Plaskett said. But it is Public Works that must ultimately raise its standards to ward off the EPA’s threat to take over regulation of the territory’s landfills.
The EPA has announced its intention to do just that, pending two public hearings to discuss the issue. The first will be held on June 27 at 7 p.m. at the Department of Education Curriculum Center in Tutu on St. Thomas. The second is set for 7 p.m. on June 28 at the Curriculum Center on St. Croix.
After the hearings, the EPA will make a final decision on whether to formally disapprove the territory’s solid-waste landfill program. According to the EPA, the process will take at least 90 days from May 8.
"DPNR has drafted rules and regulations and is hiring a solid-waste inspector," Plaskett said. "The next step is that the owner of the landfill is in compliance with rule and regulations. There are clearly problems that exist."
One is the need for better inspection of the loads of garbage brought in to landfills each day, Plaskett said.
Scavengers who use blowtorches to remove car and appliance parts are also a problem and may have started the latest fire.
Meanwhile, Public Works Commissioner Harold Thompson Jr. said in a release Monday afternoon that in an attempt to spread fill dirt over the landfill, operating hours have been shortened. The new hours will be from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.

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The territory’s latest landfill blaze was tamed over the weekend, more than four days after igniting last week.
The fire at St. Croix’s Anguilla Landfill was brought under control and "totally extinguished" Sunday, said St. Croix Fire Chief Roberto Santos.
"There is no smoke at this time," Santos said Monday. "Everything seems to be under control."
The fire was at least the fifth at the problem-plagued dump this year. The last one ignited on March 24 and burned for two days before being put out.
In addition to the full-fledged fires, there have been at least a half-dozen flare-ups. The likely cause is the ignition of methane gas generated by decomposing garbage.
While the surface fire has been put out, Dean Plaskett, commissioner of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, said his agency still has concerns about the Department of Public Works’ operating procedures at the dump. DPNR is the regulatory agency charged with enforcing rules and regulations concerning solid waste management in the territory; Public Works manages the landfills.
"We are of the position that the surface fire" is out, Plaskett said. "We are still concerned about the subsurface methane fires that continue to burn."
Plaskett said Public Works was violating several conditions of its landfill permit, including the lack of a fence around the entire site and the failure to lay down and compact daily at least six inches of fill dirt atop garbage.
By hiring a solid-waste specialist DPNR has taken steps to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mandates for an acceptable local waste management plan, Plaskett said. But it is Public Works that must ultimately raise its standards to ward off the EPA’s threat to take over regulation of the territory’s landfills.
The EPA has announced its intention to do just that, pending two public hearings to discuss the issue. The first will be held on June 27 at 7 p.m. at the Department of Education Curriculum Center in Tutu on St. Thomas. The second is set for 7 p.m. on June 28 at the Curriculum Center on St. Croix.
After the hearings, the EPA will make a final decision on whether to formally disapprove the territory’s solid-waste landfill program. According to the EPA, the process will take at least 90 days from May 8.
"DPNR has drafted rules and regulations and is hiring a solid-waste inspector," Plaskett said. "The next step is that the owner of the landfill is in compliance with rule and regulations. There are clearly problems that exist."
One is the need for better inspection of the loads of garbage brought in to landfills each day, Plaskett said.
Scavengers who use blowtorches to remove car and appliance parts are also a problem and may have started the latest fire.
Meanwhile, Public Works Commissioner Harold Thompson Jr. said in a release Monday afternoon that in an attempt to spread fill dirt over the landfill, operating hours have been shortened. The new hours will be from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.