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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 7, 2022


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 V.I. government to live up to agreements with the federal government on managing its solid waste facilities, an official of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday it is on the verge of taking regulatory oversight of local landfills. At a meeting of the Senate Planning and Environmental Protection Committee in Frederiksted, the EPA’s Jim Casey said the V.I. government was under orders to meet compliance standards four years ago at the landfills on St. Croix and St. Thomas and the transfer station on St. John.
Casey said a design and management plan complying with provisions of the law "should have been realized in October 1996."
The EPA is very concerned, he said, "that the Anguilla and Bovoni Landfills and the Susannaberg transfer station aren’t in compliance . . . with required criteria." If there isn't any progress by the local government, he added, the EPA is "not going to approve the Virgin Islands’ regulatory program."
And if that happens, "the authority of the territory to regulate the landfills will come under the auspices of the EPA," Casey said.
Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Dean Plaskett said his department 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 has issued two enforcement actions against the government for Clean Water Act violations and wetlands concerns at the Bovoni Landfill. Conditions in the decree call for the Public Works Department to clean up soil saturated with oil, solvents and used batteries. Toxic chemicals in the soil are running off into the 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 have caused great displeasure for those . . . who have been working with Public Works." He said the EPA is "hoping to provide assistance but also escalate the enforcement as necessary."
Public Works Commissioner Harold Thompson Jr. said his department is 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," he said, "because the landfills of the Virgin Islands have a lifespan alarm clock ticking which will sound off in a little over four years." And, he added, there is "another alarm clock," owned by the Federal Aviation Administration, "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, the FAA has said.
According to Thompson, 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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