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EPA Enforcement Actions in VI Lead to Environmental Improvements

Release Date: 11/15/2007
Contact Information: Rich Cahill (212) 637-3666, Cahill.Richard@EPA.gov or Jim Casey (340) 714-2333, Casey.Jim@EPA.gov

(New York, N.Y.) Using a full range of compliance and enforcement strategies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to bring more and more facilities in the U.S. Virgin Islands into and beyond compliance with the federal laws that protect public health and the environment in fiscal year 2007, which runs October 1, 2006 to September 30, 2007. In that period, EPA enforcement actions cut pollution in air and water and on land by more than 50,000 pounds, resulted in private investments of more than $255,000 in pollution control and cleanups, as well as $331,618 for environmentally beneficial projects. In addition, EPA issued 19 administrative orders to correct violations of EPA regulations in the Virgin Islands.

Among the highlights of these actions were Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (VIWAPA) upgrading its monitoring of air emissions from power plant stacks, the University of the Virgin Islands voluntarily assessing environmental compliance at all VI public school facilities, and drycleaners “greening up” their operations by using more eco-friendly equipment and cleaning agents.

“Islanders can count on our continued vigilance in enforcing EPA regulations when action is needed,” EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said. “Complying with environmental law isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s the backbone of our mission to protect people’s health and the environment.”

This year, VIWAPA agreed to install new monitors at seven of its eight power plants within the next five years and train all personnel on how to read the monitors. These monitors will give VIWAPA critical information about pollutants being emitted from their smoke stacks and help them optimize operations.

A unique agreement between EPA and the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) requires it to spend at least $99,000 to help all U. S. Virgin Islands’ schools to comply with environmental rules. The UVI will use a cadre of trained personnel to first assess how all the public schools in the Virgin Islands handle hazardous waste and point out where deficiencies exist that need to be addressed. In addition, several drycleaners, including Island Laundries, the largest laundry and dry cleaning operation in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and One Hour Martinizing agreed to permanently switch to less toxic solvents for dry-cleaning.

EPA Region 2, which covers New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, exceeded the enforcement program accomplishments of the previous fiscal year in a number of key categories. For example, the amount of money spent by the regulated community to build pollution abatement facilities and conduct environmental improvement measures increased over 1300%, from $285.9 million to over $4 billion. The volume of pollution reduced through enforcement actions rose by 95%, from 35.7 million pounds to 69.7 million pounds. The amount of civil penalties collected from non-complying facilities increased by 102%, from $5.6 million to $11.3 million, and the number of projects undertaken by the regulated community was up by 62% from 21 to 34.

On a national scale, in fiscal year 2007, EPA’s civil and criminal enforcement actions resulted in pollutant reductions of 890 million pounds. Over 65 percent of these reductions were achieved by addressing high-priority air and water pollution challenges. Air priority efforts achieved commitments to reduce 426.8 million pounds of pollutants, while water priority efforts achieved commitments to reduce 178 million pounds.

Over the last five years, EPA’s enforcement program has sustained a steady track record of pollution reductions and commitments from industry to install pollution controls. Since 2003, EPA’s enforcement activities have required companies across the country to invest over $33 billion in pollution control equipment to achieve pollution reductions of nearly 4.5 billion pounds.

More information on EPA’s enforcement and compliance programs, its accomplishments and the Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) research tool can be found at http://www.epa.gov/echo. More information about EPA Region 2 enforcement and compliance programs can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region2/capp. Additional details on Region 2's enforcement and compliance results for 2007 can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region2/capp/results.htm.

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