Waste Management OKs Lease for Landfill Compactors, with Financial Conditions

Adrian Taylor, executive director of the V.I. Waste Management Authority (Source file photo)

St. Croix’s Anguilla Landfill has only an acre and a half of space left, giving it a life expectancy of one month, according to Adrian Taylor, executive director of V.I. Waste Management Authority. The Authority’s plan is to bring in two machines to compact incoming waste into a material that can cap off the landfill.

The Board of Directors of the WMA in a special meeting Thursday approved a lease to allow the compactor plan to go forward but only under certain conditions. One condition is that the Authority has funds in place to initiate the project, funds it does not have presently. A second condition is that Zewan, the company which would lease out the machines, must provide documents to the board detailing the cost of the project.

Board Chairman Keith Richards said at the beginning of the meeting that some funds should be in place before the project can be approved.

Board member Laurence Richards echoed the chair’s concern. “I don’t want to enter a lease without having the funding available. Waste Management Authority does not have a good history of paying for services,” he said.

Keith Richards said the executive branch is committed to getting funds for the project. Gov. Albert Bryan mentioned the project in his State of the Territory Address.

Board member Nelson Petty Jr. also had concerns about the project’s cost. He said when he first learned about the project, he heard that each of the two machines would cost $2 million, but the lease, which is a lease-to-own agreement, shows each machine costing $6 million.

Taylor said when the $2 million figure was thrown out it was not based on extensive research or price quotes.

Petty also said the amount is a considerable expenditure for the Authority and Zewan should have already made a presentation to the board detailing how the machines work and what the costs are.

The lease agreement with Zewan is not to exceed $13.5 million. That figure includes a $1.5 mobilization fee, meaning getting the machines on island and connected.

It would be part of an overall five-year cost of over $17 million for the project.

Taylor said the machines will allow for the continued operation of the landfill and initiate its closure phase. He said the machines will compact waste to 30 percent of what comes in and will convert the waste, mixed with stockpiled green waste, to a material that can be used for capping the landfill.

He said the plan has the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice. “Maintaining the status quo, is not plausible,” he said.

Member Diana Collingwood said she’d like to see the training of local residents in the operation and maintenance of the machines as soon as possible.

The motion approved by the board specifically states that funds for the mobilization costs of the project, as well as enough to pay for the first three months of operation, must be available before the lease agreement can be signed.

Also attending the meeting through Zoom conferencing software was Daphne Harley. Board member Norbert Rosado was absent.