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Trash-Spoiled Wetland Near Bovoni To Be Restored

Release Date: 06/10/1999
Contact Information: Jim Casey (340) 714-2333 / casey.jim@epa.gov

(#99093) St. Thomas, Virgin Islands -- The U.S. Virgin Islands Public Works Department must clean up an area of wetlands next to the Bovoni Landfill in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands that it has spoiled with junk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The cleanup of the sensitive tidal salt flats and mangrove wetlands will be conducted under a Consent Agreement, signed earlier this month by the Public Works Department and EPA. The Consent Agreement resolves violations of the wetland provisions of the Clean Water Act.

"The trash disposed of in these wetlands smothers plant and animal life and may be a source of contamination in Mangrove Lagoon," said Jeanne Fox, EPA Regional Administrator. "The Public Works Department will clean up this area and take steps to prevent further disturbance of the wetlands by installing a fence along the landfill."

For the past 20 years, the Virgin Island Public Works Department has used the wetland area east of the landfill to dispose of junk automobiles, and old tires and appliances. More recently, the Public Works Department filled in part of the area with soil and disposed of more junk cars on top of the fill. The Army Corps of Engineers, which share authority with the EPA for protecting wetlands, first discovered the violations in September 1995 during the post-Hurricane Marilyn cleanup operations. The Corps ordered the Public Works Department to stop filling these wetlands. Since the filling continued despite this order, in January 1997, the Corps requested that EPA take legal action to stop the filling. The Agency conducted inspections in March and December of 1997 and concluded that the Virgin Islands Public Works Department had violated the Clean Water Act. Under an agreement with the EPA, the Public Works Department will stop disposing of any materials in the wetlands and will begin cleanup work.

The junk cars on the east side of the landfill have contributed to the many fires that have occurred at Bovoni landfill, including a fire in November 1997 that lasted five days. By removing the debris, the Public Works Department will also reduce the incidences of fires, which can adversely impact air quality in the area.

If it fails to properly carry out the cleanup of the wetlands area, the Virgin Islands Public Works Department could face penalties or further enforcement action. EPA will carefully monitor the progress of the cleanup.

For more information contact:
Jim Casey, Virgin Islands Coordinator
EPA Region 2
Federal Bldg., 3rd House
550 Veterans Drive, Room 142
St. Thomas, USVI 00802 Voice: 340-714-2333 FAX: 340-714-2331 E-Mail: casey.jim@epamail.epa.gov