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Virgin Islands Signs EPA Order to Clean Up Anguilla Landfill; Concern for Virgin Islanders' Health and the Environment Prompts Action

Release Date: 08/15/2001
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(#01098) New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Virgin Islands government and the Port Authority of the Virgin Islands have signed a proposed consent order to be issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up the Anguilla Landfill on St. Croix . A history of violations of federal solid waste requirements at the landfill has created problems that EPA believes may pose an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health and the environment. By signing the proposed order B technically called an "Administrative Order on Consent" -- the Virgin Islands government and the Port Authority have pledged to make improvements to the landfill to reduce any risks posed. EPA invites the public to attend a public availability session to discuss the proposed order on August 22, 2001, and to review the order and submit comments by September 15, 2001.

Over the years, EPA inspections and information obtained by the agency revealed that practices taking place at Anguilla Landfill violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the law that regulates hazardous and solid waste. Such violations included: the creation of a large used-tire pile in a part of the landfill that is inaccessible to emergency vehicles; the lack of inspections of incoming waste to make sure hazardous wastes, which are not permitted in the landfill, are not being disposed of; the lack of groundwater monitoring under and around the landfill; the inadequacy of the fencing around the facility, which does little to prevent unauthorized access or the illegal disposal of hazardous waste; and the presence of surface fires and long-burning underground fires. Additionally, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has identified the landfill as a hazard to planes leaving from and arriving at the adjacent Henry E. Rohlsen Airport due to the presence of many scavenging birds.

"We are very pleased that the government of the Virgin Islands and the Port Authority have agreed that the Anguilla Landfill is in need of immediate improvement," said William J. Muszynski, EPA Acting Regional Administrator. "EPA has the highest expectations that these two entities, working together, will bring about changes in the day-to-day management of the landfill that are so desperately required to protect Virgin Islanders and the ecosystems they depend on."

When EPA determines that violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act may pose a threat to human health or the environment, the agency can order that work be done to mitigate those threats. These orders can either be agreed to consensually by EPA and the entity that would perform the work, as is the case of Anguilla Landfill, or may be issued unilaterally by EPA.

The work required under the proposed Anguilla Landfill order includes the following:

Immediately

$ The Virgin Islands Department of Public Works (DPW) will continue to put at least six inches of cover on top of working areas of the landfill at the end of each operating day to control litter, scavenging and the spread of disease.

$ DPW will put procedures in place to prevent hazardous waste from being disposed of at the landfill, including conducting random inspections of incoming waste and training personnel.

Within 45 Days

$ The Port Authority will submit for EPA = s approval the specifications for a high grade chain-link fence at least 10 feet high around the landfill to secure it against unauthorized entry. The new fence must be installed and the existing fencing repaired within 150 days.

Within 180 Days

$ The Port Authority will build an observation deck or other structure that allows for visual inspection of incoming truckloads of waste. The Port Authority will submit a drawing and list of specifications for the structure for EPA= s review prior to building it.

Within 360 Days

$ DPW will submit a plan and schedule to EPA for managing scrap tires in a way that will reduce the potential for fire. The tires in the existing pile will be relocated inside or outside the landfill to an appropriate location. DPW will also make plans for the future proper disposal of tires that include measures to reduce the threat of fire and control vermin, mosquitoes and other insects. EPA will review the plan.

$ The Port Authority and DPW will submit a financial plan to EPA estimating the costs of the projects detailed in the order and identifying the sources of the funds.

$ DPW must submit to EPA a plan to investigate the presence of subsurface fires. EPA will review the plan and make any necessary revisions before it is implemented. If the investigation indicates the presence of such fires, within 60 days, DPW will adopt a plan to extinguish them. DPW will also consult with the local fire department for recommendations on the safe operation of the landfill and on fire control equipment to be maintained there.

$ DPW will submit a plan and timetable to EPA for bringing the landfill into full compliance with all federal solid waste regulations. The plan must include measures to collect leachate (rainwater that trickles through the waste) and to monitor the groundwater to make certain it is not being negatively impacted by chemicals from the landfill. EPA will review the plan and may make modifications before it is put into effect.

A public availability session to discuss the order will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on August 22, 2001 at the V.I. Department of Education Curriculum Center, Rural Route 2, Kingshill, St. Croix. EPA representatives will be present to explain the order and to answer any questions the public may have. In addition, interested members of the public may examine the proposed order at the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works, 6002 Estate Anna's Hope, Christiansted, St. Croix. The public may submit written comments to EPA. The agency will carefully evaluate all comments and will modify the order if necessary. Comments must be postmarked by September 15, 2001 and may be mailed or faxed to:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Philip Flax, RCRA Compliance Branch
290 Broadway, 22nd Floor
New York, New York 10007-1866
Phone (212) 637-4143, Fax (212) 637-4949