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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, July 16, 2024


Following through on its threat to take over the primary role of enforcing federal solid waste laws in the territory, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding hearings this week to decide the issue.
Tuesday on St. Thomas and Wednesday on St. Croix, the EPA will hold public hearings to discuss its preliminary decision to disapprove the territory’s landfill program and assume a greater role in enforcing federal solid waste laws in the islands.
According to an EPA statement, the agency is making the move because the V.I. government has not adopted the necessary solid-waste regulations or allocated enough funding and staff to deal with solid waste issues. After EPA officials considered the comments of those testifying at the two hearings, they will decide whether formally to disapprove the territory’s program and assume a greater role in enforcing landfill regulations.
The action reflects statements made by its V.I. coordinator, Jim Casey, at a Senate committee meeting in February. Casey told members of the Planning and Environmental Protection Committee that after years of the local government failing to manage solid-waste facilities according to agreements with the federal government, the EPA was set to declare the V.I. landfill program unsatisfactory. The preliminary decision was made May 8.
The problems are not new. In 1993, the V.I. government applied to the EPA for approval of a solid-waste program. According to the EPA, the territory was advised that to receive full approval, the Virgin Islands would have to have regulations comparable to or stricter than federal guidelines in place by May 1996. Additionally, EPA called for the local government to commit staff and financial resources to operate the territory’s two main landfills in accordance with federal standards.
Seven years later, the Planning and Natural Resources Department has yet to submit an acceptable proposal.
Meanwhile, because of threats to human health and the environment, the EPA in April ordered the cleanup of the Bovoni landfill on St. Thomas. The order, issued with the consent of the local government, was one step short of the agency taking unilateral action to force compliance.
The St. Thomas hearing will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Curriculum Center in Anna's Retreat. The St. Croix session Wednesday will begin at 7 p.m. at the St. Croix Curriculum Center.

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