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Toa Baja and Landfill Operator Agree To Close Landfill; EPA Issues Order to PR Land Authority

Release Date: 01/08/2009
Contact Information: Michael Ortiz (212) 637-3670, ortiz.michael@epa.gov or Brenda Reyes (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov

(San Juan, P.R.) In a move that will protect people living in the community surrounding Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, the Municipality of Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, and its landfill operator, Landfill Technologies Corp., have voluntarily signed an agreement, called a consent order, with EPA to permanently close the Toa Baja Municipal Solid Waste landfill and to install and operate a gas collection and control system. The Puerto Rico Land Authority (PRLA), the former landfill property owner, declined to enter into negotiations on the consent order, prompting EPA to issue a separate order directing PRLA to perform the work required by the consent order and to cooperate with Toa Baja and the Landfill Technologies Corp.

“This landfill poses a health risk because it is not up to environmental standards, so closing it is the best way to protect people’s health, “ said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “Together with a new solid waste master plan, developed by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico with EPA input, this and other landfill closures will improve the way waste in Puerto Rico is handled in the future.”

The 105-acre landfill opened in the early 1970s and was operated as two separate landfills, one by the Municipality of Bayamon and one by the Municipality of Toa Baja. Since the mid 1990s, when the two landfills merged, Toa Baja has operated the landfill. PRLA owned the landfill property until 2005, when it transferred the property to Toa Baja. The landfill currently receives approximately 350,000 tons of solid waste each year.

EPA inspections of the landfill in 2003 and 2006 revealed substantial deficiencies that presented potential threats to people’s health and the environment. These deficiencies include: potentially unstable slopes, leachate leaking off site, insufficient stormwater controls, and inadequate security measures. In addition, the landfill emits large quantities of gas, without being controlled by a gas collection and control system. Landfill gas emissions include hazardous air pollutants, which can cause adverse effects on human health and the environment.

After extensive negotiations, Toa Baja and Landfill Technologies, Corp. agreed to the terms of the proposed agreement. Along with requiring that the existing landfill stop receiving waste deposits by June 30, 2010, the consent order requires the permanent closure of the landfill, the installation and operation of a gas collection and control system, continued operation of the gas collection and control system after permanent closure, and the undertaking of appropriate post-closure care, including ground water monitoring. Intermediate protective measures will be implemented at an early stage, including protective cover maintenance, slope stabilization, stormwater and leachate seepage controls, and ground water monitoring.

For a Google Earth aerial view of the Toa Baja Municipal Landfill area, go to: http://www.epa.gov/region02/kml/toa_baja_municipal_landfill.kml (You must have Google Earth installed on your computer to view the map. To download Google Earth, visit http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html ).

For more information on the management of solid waste in Puerto Rico, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/cepd/solidwaste_in_puerto_rico.html

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