No End in Sight to St. Thomas Landfill Metal Ban

Metal debris cannot be brought to the Bovoni Landfill, and so a lot of it ends up on the side of the road. (Source photo by Judi Shimel)
Metal debris cannot be brought to the Bovoni Landfill, and so a lot of it ends up on the side of the road. (Source photo by Judi Shimel)

St. Thomas residents and businesses waiting for the V.I. Waste Management Authority to lift scrap metal restrictions at the Bovoni Landfill will have to wait longer, according to a WMA spokeswoman.

Since the authority suspended the practice of accepting disposable metals at the St. Thomas landfill, those with used appliances, construction debris and electronics have been given no choice. A statement released in late September – but not widely circulated – tells those who like to declutter their homes and worksites to just hold on.

“The disposal of metals at the Bovoni Landfill is suspended until further notice. Residents are asked to hold on to their metals until the authority revokes the suspension,” said Public Information Officer Melody Rames.

A copy of the Sept. 20 notice can be seen on the agency’s social media page.

The public has also been asked to refrain from illegal dumping and to report any violations to the Waste Management hotline at 844-962-8784 (844-WMA-USVI).

The suspension at Bovoni dump follows a scrap metal moratorium imposed by Waste Management in mid May.

“The landfill is over capacity in its scrap metal area and cannot accept any additional metal at this time,” Rames said in a statement issued May 23.

Authorities promised to use the time to maintain the section of landfill used to store metal debris. Regular operations resumed June 3. But by Sept. 20, scrap metal was again off the Bovoni receiving list.

There’s doubt, however, about how far the messages reached. There are more than 130,000 residents living in the Virgin Islands, but the authority’s Facebook page has 1,002 followers. The Twitter feed has 140 likes.

And Rames said in the past six months the agency’s hotline has received two complaints about scrap metal dumping. The Waste Management Hotline is managed by an office administrator who handles calls in between other duties, she said.

Timely removal of accumulated tires and scrap metal have been topics at the three federal compliance hearings held this year in District Court. The lagging pace of progress so frustrated District Court Judge Curtis Gomez, who oversees Waste Managements’ consent decrees, that he thought of declaring the agency in default of its settlement deal.

But by May, Waste Management Director Adrian Taylor was able to convince the court his team could get the solid waste spillover under control. At a quarterly hearing, he reported the quantity of scrap metal and scrap tires removed from Bovoni and to a lesser amount, from the Anguilla Landfill on St. Croix.

But Rames said, no scrap metal has moved from the St. Thomas landfill since then.

In an interview given to the Source in early November, the agency spokeswoman could not say when the suspension would be reversed.

Attempts to reach Taylor for comment were unsuccessful at the time of this writing.