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EPA Removing 475 Gallons of Paints and Other Materials from Church on St. Thomas; Agency Also Completes Removal of Waste Pesticide and Contaminated Soil from Department of Agriculture Site on St. Croix

Release Date: 03/23/2000
Contact Information:
(#00047) New York, N.Y. -- On Friday, March 24, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin removing 475 one-gallon cans of solvent-based paints, adhesives and other materials from the front lawn of Agape Seventh Day Adventist Church located at 107 Bolongo Bay on St. Thomas. The church requested EPA's help to remove the cans, which the church acquired after Hurricane Marilyn in 1995. Some of the cans are rusted, lack labels and have released their contents. EPA is concerned that rain might wash the contents of the cans, which are considered hazardous wastes, into the groundwater beneath the site and pollute it, and that people might come in contact with the contents. The cleanup is being done by EPA's Superfund program under the supervision of EPA On-Scene Coordinator Jeff Bechtel, and will take approximately three days.

The Agape Seventh Day Adventist Church has had the 475 cans of paints, adhesives and other paint products since 1995. They were initially stored in the basement of the church, where they suffered water damage. The cans were put on the lawn after the church determined that it could not use them and that the cans could not be disposed of at the Bovoni Landfill. In their present location on the lawn, they are exposed to rain and wind, which may damage them further. Starting Friday, EPA will inventory the cans and then separate them according to their hazardous components. The cans will then be labeled and safely packed and stored for shipment off-island for disposal. Once EPA arranges for the cans' safe disposal most likely in April 2000 the Agency will remove them from the church site. The Agency will also remove any soil from the front lawn of the church that has been contaminated by leaking cans. The cleanup will cost approximately $30,000.

The remediation of the Agape Church site is being conducted by EPA's Superfund Program, which carries out cleanup operations at hazardous waste sites, responds to chemical and oil spills, and removes abandoned chemicals from communities before the materials cause direct harm to the public or further contaminate soil or drinking water. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, commonly known as the Superfund law, gave EPA the authority to conduct both long-term, sometimes complex remediations of contaminated areas that pose chronic threats to the environment and/or human health, and short-term removals like the one at the church, which require immediate responses because they pose more acute threats.

On Wednesday, March 22, EPA completed the removal of thirty 55-gallon drums of waste Malathion -- a pesticide and nine cubic yards of Malathion-contaminated soil from a U.S.V.I. Department of Agriculture (VIDOA) facility located at Route 70 in Estate Lower Love, Kingshill, St. Croix. The waste pesticide and soil were shipped-off island for proper disposal. The cleanup, which was also done under EPA's Superfund program, began on January 6, 2000 and cost approximately $150,000. The liquid Malathion had been intended for use in mosquito control by the Virgin Islands Department of Health (VIDOH), which had inappropriately stored the pesticide along with drums of other hazardous chemicals at its Charles Harwood Complex. In 1995, after the other hazardous chemicals were removed from the Harwood facility under EPA oversight, VIDOH moved the leftover Malathion to the VIDOH facility so that it could be used for agricultural purposes. The drums were kept outside at the DOA facility, and ultimately deteriorated from exposure to the elements. EPA had been concerned that rain might wash the pesticide into the groundwater beneath the site, and that, in the event of a fire or vandalism, the health of residents and workers nearby might be threatened. VIDOH asked EPA to help remove the drums in November 1999, and agreed to reimburse EPA for its work.