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EPA to Meet with the Public on the Future of Santa Isabel Municipal Landfill

Release Date: 08/02/2007
Contact Information: Richard Cahill (212) 637-3666, cahill.richard@epa.gov or Brenda Reyes (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov

(San Juan, P.R.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public meeting in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, on Friday, August 3, 2007, to hear what people have to say about the terms of the Agency’s proposed order on consent with the municipality and landfill operators to close the municipality’s existing landfill.

“The fact is that the Commonwealth has a serious solid waste management problem and Puerto Rico needs to address it expeditiously and comprehensively, and every legitimate option has to be explored,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “While we recognize the need for landfills, many of the landfills in Puerto Rico are so poorly run the only responsible thing is to close them in order to protect the health of the surrounding communities. Along with correcting the landfill problem in Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth also needs to promote reduction of waste, recycling and waste to energy plants.”

In August 2006, EPA sent a proposed consent order to the Municipality of Santa Isabel to close the landfill because, after being operated in an unsafe manner over a long period of time, it poses a potential threat to drinking water sources (both ground water and surface water), as well as land adjacent to the landfill. The landfill closure proposal calls for the existing landfill to stop receiving wastes, to have appropriate closure measures completed by the summer of 2010 and for post-closure monitoring and maintenance of the landfill.

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 this proposed order and its terms bind the consenting parties to comply with deadlines for action or face potential financial penalties.

A notice announcing the public meeting was published in the Primera Hora newspaper on July 16, 2007. The August 3 public meeting in Santa Isabel will be from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM on the 2nd floor, Municipal Legislature Room of City Hall in Santa Isabel. At the meeting, EPA officials will summarize the proposed Order on Consent and provide time for public comments. Copies of the proposed Order are available for review at EPA’s office at Centro Europa Building, Suite 417, Ponce de Leon Avenue in San Juan and at City Hall in Santa Isabel. EPA welcomes written public comments on the proposed Order, which must be received by August 8, 2007 and mailed to the following address:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2
Philip Flax, Presiding Officer
RCRA Compliance Branch
290 Broadway, 28th 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

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