EPA Seeks Public Input over Proposed Landfill Permits

Bovoni Landfill on St. Thomas. (Source file photo)
Bovoni Landfill on St. Thomas. (Source file photo)

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering a request by the V.I. government to approve a permanent set of rules used to manage the territory’s landfills. As part of the process, federal authorities are inviting the public to attend three public hearings scheduled for the end of July.

According to a notice published several weeks ago in the Federal Register, EPA was asked by a USVI agency to issue a tentative determination of adequacy for the Anguilla Landfill on St. Croix and the Bovoni Landfill on St. Thomas.

The public hearings are scheduled for July 23 on St. Croix, July 24 on St. Thomas and July 25 on St. John.

The determination of adequacy speaks to how the management of municipal solid waste landfills complies with the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

EPA Administrator Peter D Lopez explained in the May 9 Federal Register notice that if the feds approve the new proposal, it would replace a determination of adequacy that was granted in June 1995.

A 1984 amendment to the RCRA requires U.S. states to create systems of prior approval that ensure landfills receiving hazardous waste stay within the RCRA guidelines. Instituting a permitting system is one form of prior approval.

Once EPA approves the proposed plan the agency managing landfills can gain a wider range of options; among those options, landfill expansion, what kind of material can be used as landfill cover daily or how to choose a financing mechanism to make sure managers have adequate resources for RCRA compliance.

Since 2010 the territory’s landfills have been subject to a federal consent decree in which local authorities agreed to a list of steps, correcting violations of the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. At the most recent compliance hearings in St. Thomas District Court, officials of the Waste Management Authority have been confronted with their agreement to close Bovoni and Anguilla by deadlines that came and went in 2018 and 2019.

A WMA administrator, who spoke on background, said they didn’t know much about the request to EPA but said it was most likely related to the pending landfill closures and identification of new landfill replacement sites.

Concerned citizens and members of the public who want to know more about the proposal can view related documents filed with EPA. On St. Thomas, documents can be found at the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Protection at Tutu Park Mall. On St. John relevant documents can be viewed at the Elaine Sprauve Library near Route 104. On St. Croix, the public can view documents at DPNR’s office at Mars Hill in Frederiksted.