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EPA To Meet with the Public on the Future of Municipal Landfills in Vega Baja and Florida

Release Date: 03/07/2007
Contact Information: Richard Cahill (212) 637-3666, cahill.richard@epa.gov; Brenda Reyes (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov

(San Juan, P.R. -- Mar. 7, 2007) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold public meetings in Vega Baja and Florida, Puerto Rico the week of March 19, 2007 to hear what people have to say about the terms of the Agency’s orders to the two municipalities to close their existing landfills and make conditions safer for residents and the environment during the period the facilities will remain in operation.

“My deep concern about the existing conditions at many municipal landfills in Puerto Rico is no secret,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “The cooperation of the mayors and other involved parties is making coming to grips with this problem possible.”

In May 2006, EPA ordered the landfills closed because, after being operated in an unsafe manner over a long period of time, they pose a potential threat to drinking water sources (both ground water and surface water) and surrounding land and water.

The landfill closure proposals call for the existing landfills to stop receiving wastes at the end of 2009, to have appropriate closure measures completed by the spring of 2010 and for post-closure monitoring and maintenance of the landfills. The plans are embodied in proposed Orders on Consent that EPA has negotiated with the municipalities of Vega Baja and Florida to address concerns the landfills may become substantial dangers to public health or the environment.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the federal law that governs solid and hazardous waste management. It is the basis of EPA’s authority in negotiating these proposed orders and its terms bind the consenting parties to comply with deadlines for action or face potential financial penalties.

The March 20 public meeting in Vega Baja will be from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM in the America Theater at 56 Jose Julian Acosta St. in Vega Baja. The March 21 public meeting in Florida will also be from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM in the Efrain Berrios Municipal Theater at 74 Ramon Torres Street. At the meetings, Agency officials will summarize the proposed Orders on Consent and provide time for public comments. EPA welcomes written public comments on the proposed Orders, which must be received by March 27, 2007 and mailed to the following address:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2
Philip Flax, Presiding Officer
RCRA Compliance Branch
290 Broadway, 22nd Floor
New York, New York 10007-1866

EPA will carefully evaluate and consider all comments. For more information on landfills in Puerto Rico visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/cepd/solidwaste_in_puerto_rico.html

(07-022)