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New EPA Position to Enhance Community Involvement on St. Croix

Release Date: 03/08/2012
Contact Information: Mary Mears 212 637 3673; mears.mary@epa.gov

      (New York, NY) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it will for the first time station a community involvement coordinator for the U.S. Virgin Islands on St. Croix. In mid-March, Geoffrey M. Garrison will begin his tenure in the Virgin Islands and will be handling a combination of community outreach and some emergency response work. Specifically, Geoff will oversee activities at the shutdown HOVENSA facility, respond to pollution releases and support the work of the U.S. Virgins Islands Recycling Partnership.

      Geoff has been with the EPA’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division in San Juan, Puerto Rico since 2000, where he did emergency response work under the Superfund program. He has responded to large scale emergencies, including the World Trade Center attack, Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi and the CAPECO Refinery explosion in Cataņo, Puerto Rico. At the local level, Geoff worked in close cooperation with the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources to address spills at the former St. Croix Alumina site, HOVENSA, and other oil or chemical releases.

      For the last four years, Geoff has served in the U.S. Army Reserves, holding the rank of Colonel, as the U.S. Virgin Islands Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer in St. Croix. In this capacity, he is responsible for planning, coordinating with local, territorial and federal agencies throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. He has served during major storms as liaison to the National Guard and Virgin Islands Territorial Management Agency, assisting the Defense Coordinating Officer in integrating active military support if requested by the U.S. Virgin Islands government.

      Prior to joining the EPA, Geoff served for 10 years as an Engineer Officer in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of Captain. He served as commander of a Combat Heavy Engineer Company that deployed to Desert Shield/Storm in Iraq. He also served as Resident Engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Athens, Greece, and Assistant Professor of Military Science at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez campus.

      Geoff holds a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. Geoff is bilingual and fluent in Spanish.

      In light of ongoing pollution problems related to various St. Croix facilities and the recent shutdown of the HOVENSA oil refinery, the EPA determined that it would be beneficial to assign someone with technical skills to the position on St. Croix. Along with his technical training, skills and experience, Geoff brings to this new position a strong understanding of community involvement, having planned and participated in outreach to impacted communities throughout the Caribbean.

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