Jan. 15, 2004 – The Senate Committee on Planning and Environmental Protection gave its approval on Thursday to the renewal of a major Coastal Zone Management permit for the Water and Power Authority to continue using a fuel pier near its Richmond power plant in Christiansted and to make modifications to a nearby dock and adjacent land.
The permit allows WAPA to continue using the submerged lands for the existing fuel pier, to repair and use a P-shaped dock structure, to construct a boat ramp adjacent to the fuel pier and to install security fencing to enclose the area from the refurbished dock to and along the western side of the fuel pier.
The committee, meeting on St. Croix, heard testimony from Julita de Leon, CZM legal counsel; Ishmael Meyers Jr., WAPA deputy legal counsel; Kevin Smalls, Richmond plant superintendent; Alicia Barnes Sylvester, WAPA assistant environmental manager; Yvonne Tharpes, chief legislative legal counsel; and Norman Williams, CZM staff member.
The Planning and Natural Resources Department and the St. CZM Committee previously had approved the renewal of the permit, which now requires Senate approval.
Tharpes said her review of the permit application found some minor deficiencies, such as its having been filed after the due date, but gave it her approval. "The permit is consistent with the goals and objectives of CZM, and it is in the best interests of the public," she said. CZM's de Leon also gave it her okay.
Sen. Ronald Russell questioned Sylvester about the late filing of the application. "We were not aware of a late filing," Sylvester replied. "We were consistent with the application. DPNR did not notify us of anything to the contrary."
Tharpes told the committee the 20-year permit expired in September 1999 and that the renewal application was filed in October 2002.
According to a release from the Legislature, Sylvester said the pier is utilized for the offloading of fuel for power generation and water production at the Richmond plant. And she said the fencing will be installed to comply with federal homeland security requirements, and the dock rehabilitation and boat ramp construction are to help WAPA improve its response capabilities in the event of oil spills.
Sen. Luther Renee asked about the permit fee structure. Fees for the docking area and boat ramp will total $42,133 per year under the renewed agreement. WAPA had been paying $22,440.
Committee members present were the chair, Sen. Louis Hill; and Sens. Carlton Dowe, Almando "Rocky" Liburd and Russell, a quorum. All four voted in favor of the permit. Members not present were Sens. Roosevelt David, Adlah "Foncie" Donastorg and Shawn-Michael Malone. Renee, who was present, is not a member of the committee.
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