Oct. 21, 2004 The V.I. Port Authority on Tuesday began hauling truckloads of material dredged from the Enighed Pond commercial port project to the Susannaberg landfill.
"We're spreading it over the old landfill to use as cover," deputy Public Works director Ira Wade said Thursday.
The Port Authority has to get rid of the dredged material in order to get the project back on track. The Enighed Pond commercial port was supposed to open in December, but delays including a problem in the spring with odor from the dredged material (see "Smell, Pump Break Put Enighed Dredging on Hold"), have pushed the opening up to March. This is the latest in several delays.
At the June 13, 2003, groundbreaking ceremony, the Port Authority announced the project would be done by July 2004. The project has been on the books since 1971.
Port Authority board president Robert O'Connor Jr. said that the Port Authority is assuming responsibility for installing a water pipe under Pond Mouth Road. He said the V.I. Water and Power Authority had the project on its agenda, but doesn't currently have the funding. O'Connor said the Port Authority must pave the road as part of the Enighed Pond project, but doesn't want to pave it only to have WAPA dig it up at a later date.
O'Connor said plans to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Route 104 and the road that runs past the Fire Station to Enighed Pond are proceeding. O'Connor operates a gas station near where the roundabout will go.
He said he anticipates the gas station will be moved, but didn't know where.
"I've been notified something will happen next year," he said.
Wade said the Port Authority and its contractor, American Bridge Co., are meeting the guidelines set up to facilitate the trucking process. He said the trucks are covered with plastic, they give Public Works advance notice and they're providing machines to move the fill around on the landfill.
"And they're minimizing spillage on the road," he said.
O'Connor said that the Port Authority had looked at leaving the dredged material adjacent to the pond to dry out, but there was more than anticipated. There wasn't enough room for it all.
Wade said that rather than trucking the dredged material to St. Thomas or St. Croix, taking it a few miles to the Susannaberg landfill avoids congestion on the barge as well as the barge costs.
Wade said residents and agency heads have called with environmental concerns.
"I had 50 calls today," he said.
He, O'Connor and St. John Administrator Julien Harley stressed that the Planning and Natural Resources Department tested the material to make sure it contained no hazardous materials that could leach from the Susannaberg landfill down Guinea Gut into the sea.
"We would not have put it up there if we had concerns," Harley said.
Wade said that Enighed Pond did receive years of deposits from an often-malfunctioning sewage treatment plant, but the pond, which was open to the sea, flushed itself out.
"There was more than adequate flushing of the pond or we would have found bad stuff," Wade said.
Jim Casey, Virgin Islands coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said he just learned about the trucking on Wednesday, but that it was a local matter.
Paula Myles, who lives near the Susannaberg landfill, said she worries about the arrival of the dredged material. She said she fears it will kill the existing vegetation.
"I know the only thing keeping the whole Susannaberg nightmare from washing down the hill is the vegetation," she said.
However, O'Connor said that he understands the dredged material provides fertile ground for vegetation.
Planning spokesman Jamal Nielsen could not be reached for comment.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. John Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice.. click here.