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Community Provided Sewer Line Connections Due to EPA Settlement with Ponce Landfill Owner

Release Date: 06/15/2011
Contact Information: John Martin, (212) 637-3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov or Brenda Reyes, (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov

(San Juan, P.R.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a legal settlement with the owner and operator of the Ponce Municipal Landfill that will reduce water pollution from the landfill into a local stream. The management of stormwater at the landfill will also be improved. In addition to complying with the requirements of the agreement, Allied Waste of Ponce, Inc. will spend at least $200,000 to build a new sewer line from the Ponce Municipal Landfill through the Barrio La Cotorra community located south of the landfill, which will then connect to the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority wastewater treatment plant in Ponce. The sewer line will handle wastewater from landfill operations. In addition, the company will work with the Barrio La Cotorra community to connect homes to the new sewer line, which will eliminate the discharges of raw sewage from the septic systems that the community currently uses for wastewater disposal. The release of raw sewage from septic systems is a significant public health concern throughout Puerto Rico. EPA considers the area an environmental justice community because it is affected by disproportionately high and adverse environmental and public health conditions. Allied will also pay a $23,000 penalty.

“Clean water is our most vital natural resource and it is crucial that we reduce the pollution reaching our lakes, rivers and streams to protect people’s health,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “When a company violates its permits to discharge pollutants into a body of water, EPA takes action to make sure the problem is corrected, which is what we are doing at the Ponce landfill.”

Allied owns and operates the Ponce Municipal Landfill at State Rd. No. 500 in Ponce, P.R., and has a permit under the Clean Water Act to discharge certain pollutants in a tributary of Rio Pastillo. The permit requires the water going into the tributary to meet water quality standards. In July 2008, EPA inspected the landfill and found that the water didn’t meet the requirements for chemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids. Chemical oxygen demand measures the amount of pollution that cannot be broken down biologically in a body of water. The higher the chemical oxygen demand, the more pollution present in a body of water. Suspended solids are small particles of pollutants that float on the surface of sewage or other liquids and resist removal by conventional means. Suspended solids lead to the development of sludge deposits and affect fish and other aquatic species. Allied is now in compliance with its water permit.

EPA’s inspection also found that Allied did not properly implement its stormwater pollution prevention plan at the landfill, because it did not test the water for pollution. Stormwater pollution prevention plans are also required under the Clean Water Act. The company is currently implementing its stormwater pollution control plan.

The sewer line construction funded by Allied is considered by EPA to be a supplemental environmental project, which is an environmentally-beneficial project that a violator voluntarily agrees to undertake in partial settlement of violations, and it must be a project that a violator would not otherwise be required to perform.

For more information about requirements of the Clean Water Act and how EPA protects the nation’s water, visit http://www.water.epa.gov/.

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/eparegion2.

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