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Citizen’s Suit – Motion to Intervene

DISTRICT COURT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

DIVISION OF ST. THOMAS AND ST. JOHN

 

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

Plaintiff

CIVIL No.   1984-104

GOVERNMENT of the    VIRGIN ISLANDS

Defendant

 

BRIEF ON MOTION TO INTERVENE

Now comes Susan K. Wolterbeek, Pro Se, being duly sworn, and hereby states as follows:

Intervenor is a Citizen of the United States and a resident of St. Thomas, United States

Virgin Islands. An Affidavit in Support of Motion to Intervene is included with this filing.

Intervenor is bringing this Motion to Intervene as of Right, under Rule 24 (a)(1) of the

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (F.R.C.P.). Citizens are given an unconditional right to

intervene in this case by federal statute,  33 United States Code (U.S.C.) 1365 (b)(1)(B), as (the

parties would contend that) the Administrator has commenced and is diligently prosecuting a

civil action in a court of the United States.

Intervenor has an Interest that is Significantly Protectable

In addition, Intervention is as of right under F.R.C.P. Rule 24 (a)(2). As a resident of the US

Virgin Islands, Intervenor has a compelling interest in the continued health of, not pollution of,

USVI territorial waters. As stated in the accompanying Affidavit in Support of Motion to

Intervene, [Affidavit], Intervenor moved to St. Thomas in part out of deep affection for and

commitment to Coral and Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles, endangered and threatened

species living in the coastal waters directly surrounding the U.S. Virgin Islands. Intervenor

snorkels and swims in USVI territorial waters.

It is a scientific fact that a small drop of fecal matter can contain millions of

microorganisms of many types, some of which are pathogenic.

Microbial pathogens in raw or inadequately treated sewage can cause illnesses ranging from

temporary stomach cramps to life-threatening conditions such as inflammation of the heart.

Cholera, Typhus and SARS can cause outbreaks and death, and many of the other diseases can

debilitate people severely, such as Hepatitis A,B, Giardia Lambia, Gastroenteritis, Poliovirus,

and Poliomyelitis.

There has been a recent outbreak of Cholera in Haiti, sickening 250,000, and killing 5,000.

Apparently the outbreak was caused by a U.N. facility having sanitation problems [Exhibit 13].

This dumping of raw sewage is being done willfully, and has been for 27 years. If people fall ill,

it will have a devastating effect on the people, tourism and our economy. If we have an outbreak

of cholera or typhus, our economy will fail as well as our bodies.

Citizens have a right to enjoy our coastal waters, not to swim in raw sewage, without even

being given legal warning of these bypasses. The Affidavit reveals through 150 VIWMA Non-

Compliance Reports and newspaper articles at least 83 full days of bypassing raw sewage since

this Court’s Order of 3/18/10  [Exhibits 2-5, 15-18, 23-25].

The Affidavit details VIWMA’s failure to abide by the Territorial Pollutant Discharge

Elimination System (TPDES) Permit, and this Honorable Court’s Order by not publishing

required Public Notices before, during, and after bypasses, or posting warnings on beaches. Thus

Citizens have no knowledge if or when VIWMA is dumping raw sewage, and whether it is even

safe to go swimming. Intervenor therefore has an interest that is “significantly protectable”.

Donaldson v. United States, 400 U.S. 517, 531, 91 S.Ct. 534, 542, 27 L.Ed.2d 580 (1971).

The Motion Is Timely

This motion is timely, because this an ongoing case, with VIWMA to supply this Honorable

Court with ongoing data in regard to the wastewater systems, and a plan to buy, replace and

maintain the pumps.  The Court has established an emergency fund to purchase or repair pumps

on an emergency basis with the goal that no further bypasses of raw sewage will occur, and has

held a hearing on these issues on May 11, 2011.

However, neither party has fully apprised this Honorable Court of the massive 83 days of

bypasses that VIWMA has been committing since the Order of March 18, 2010.

Exhibit 2 is a Summary of the 186 Non-Compliance Reports provided by the EPA enumerating

raw sewage discharges by VIWMA from1/1/10 -3/23/11. Defendant’s Exhibit C stated that it

included all St. Croix bypasses of raw sewage until April, 2011, yet there were several major

bypasses in March which were not included in Exhibit C.

If the rate of flow is the same as last year, these 83 days of bypasses probably exceed the

bypasses which were the subject of the emergency motion on March 11, 2010. It is therefore

important and timely to provide this Honorable Court with the full truth concerning the many

ongoing bypasses of raw sewage over the past year as well as the present condition of the pumps

and the systems which continue to break down regularly.

When determining timeliness, the Court examines the prejudice that the delay of the

intervention will cause the current parties to the litigation. Mountain Top, Mountain Top Condo.

Ass’n v. Dave Stabbert Master Builder, Inc., 72 F.3d 361 at 369-70 (3d Cir. 1995).

In the case at hand Intervention will not cause delay. To the contrary, this information will be

useful to the Court to render a decision. Even if there is any question as to timeliness,

as the Court stated in Mountaintop, when “intervention is of right, the would-be intervenor may

be seriously harmed if he is not permitted to intervene, [thus] courts should be reluctant to

dismiss a request for intervention [of right] as untimely.” Mountain Top, 72 F.3d at 368.

The Existing Parties are not adequately representing or protecting Citizens’ Interests.

Disposing of this action will impair or impede Intervenor’s ability to protect her interest in

swimming and snorkeling, and seeing living endangered species, as well as keeping the

territorial waters unpolluted by raw sewage. VIWMA has continued to pump many, many more

millions of gallons of raw sewage into USVI coastal waters since this Honorable Court’s Order

of March 18, 2010, and the EPA has allowed these illegal actions, and will not file for Contempt

or Receivership [Exhibits 6-7, 11]. The EPA has apparently made no plans to address our

polluted waters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency

responsible for protecting the territorial waters of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and who has spent

millions of dollars on projects to protect and re-colonize Corals.

Further, as detailed in the accompanying Affidavit, VIWMA has not followed specific

Court Orders in regard to the Figtree and Cancryn Pump Stations, nor maintained the requisite

back-up pumps for St. Croix.

As detailed in the accompanying Affidavit, although Intervenor has asked the EPA

Region 2  Administrator several times, in person and by letters, to stop VIWMA from continuing

to dump the raw sewage, and implored the Region 2 attorneys during weekly conference calls for

the past month to file for Contempt and Receivership, [Exhibits 6,7,10,11], the EPA will not take

such action. For the foregoing reasons, the existing parties are not adequately representing or

protecting Citizens’ interests.

As the United States Supreme Court stated, “[t]he requirement of the Rule is satisfied if the

applicant shows that representation of his interest ‘may be’ inadequate; and the burden of making

that showing should be treated as minimal.” Trbovich v. United Mine Workers, 404 U.S. 528,

538 n. 10, 92 S.Ct. 630, 636 n. 10, 30 L.Ed.2d 686 (1972). The most important factor in

determining adequacy of representation is how the interest of the absentee compares with the

interest of the present parties. If the interest of the absentee is not represented at all, or if all

existing parties are adverse to him, as in the case at hand, then he is not adequately represented.

This Intervention may be commenced Immediately

This Motion to Intervene, Complaint in Intervention, and Motion for an Expedited  Hearing

on Contempt and Receivership may be brought immediately, without the normal 60 day notice,

pursuant to 33 U.S.C. 1365 (b)(2) because VIWMA is in violation of  33 U.S.C sections 1316

and/or 1317(a), [as well as this Honorable Court’s Orders] by committing illegal discharges in

violation of the effluent standard of performance under the Clean Water Act.

Therefore, since this motion is timely, Intervenor may Intervene as a matter of right

pursuant to FRCP Rule 24 (a)(1)  and 33 United States Code (U.S.C.) 1365 (b)(1)(B) as well as

under F.R.C.P. Rule 24 (a)(2). In addition, Intervention is further appropriate through F.R.C.P.

Rule 24 (b)(1)(B) because Intervenor has compelling facts to offer the Court, in regard to the

150 Non-Compliance Reports since 3/18/10, signed by VIWMA and provided by the EPA,

along with the Summary of said reports.

Wherefore, Intervenor hereby requests the following relief of this Honorable Court:

  1. That the within Motion to Intervene is granted, and Susan K. Wolterbeek is permitted to be a party to this case, as of Right.
  2. That in light of  the Summary of Non-Compliance Reports and newspaper articles submitted by Intervenor as Exhibits, which reveal 83 days of raw sewage bypasses, Intervenor’s Motion, Pleadings and evidence are accepted, and Intervenor may proceed in this case immediately.
  3. Any further relief that is just and equitable.

Respectfully submitted,

_______________________

Susan K. Wolterbeek, Pro Se

PO Box 306658

St. Thomas, VI 00803

(340) 714-2233

susan@GreenerVI.org

Territory of the US Virgin Islands

District of St. Thomas and St. John

Citizen’s Suit – Affidavit in Support of Motion to Intervene

DISTRICT COURT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

DIVISION OF ST. THOMAS AND ST. JOHN

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,

Plaintiff

CIVIL No.   1984-104

GOVERNMENT of the    VIRGIN ISLANDS

Defendant

 

AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO INTERVENE

Now comes Susan K. Wolterbeek, Pro Se, being duly sworn, and hereby states as follows:

VIWMA’s REPORTS REVEAL 77 DAYS OF RAW SEWAGE BYPASSES SINCE 3/18/10

I moved to St. Thomas in part out of deep affection for and commitment to Coral

and Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles, endangered and threatened species living in the coastal

waters directly surrounding the US Virgin Islands. I snorkel and swim in USVI

territorial waters.

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), on March 28, 2011, I requested of

the EPA the start dates, stop dates and rate of flow for all raw sewage bypasses in the USVI

from 1/1/10 until the present. [Exhibit 14].  The EPA furnished 186 Non-Compliance Reports,

150 of which were issued since the 3/18/10 Court Order. A Summary of these reports is at

Exhibit 2.

These Non-Compliance Reports as a whole are available to the Court, should the Court

wish to review them. A few individual Non-Compliance Reports are at Exhibits 15-18,

and 23-25.

The total days of  raw sewage bypasses between 3/18/10 and 3/23/11 reported by

VIWMA exceeds 77 days. Even so, based upon the reports themselves and newspaper articles,

[Exhibits 3-5] there were at least 6 additional days of bypassing raw sewage, and this number is

likely to be significantly higher, as several of the reports do not give stop dates, and some reports

are missing entirely.

On August 30, 2010 NaNa Gut had an “Ongoing “ bypass, [Exhibit 17] as did

Weymouth Rhymer Pump Station on 1/4/11 [Exhibit 18]. Many pump stations were not

working during Hurricane Earl, and state “n/a”, instead of a stop date. [Exhibit 2]. All of

these “Ongoing” and “n/a”  bypasses were counted by me as only one day each, thus the actual

count of raw sewage bypass days may be significantly higher.

VIWMA DID NOT FILE ANY NON-COMPLIANCE REPORTS FOR A MAJOR BYPASS

On 4/28/10, the VI Daily News reported that VIWMA started pumping raw sewage over

Long Reef on Saturday, April 24, 2010, and that the bypassing was expected to continue for the

next five days, while a 4/29/10 report stated the dumping had ceased on 4/27. [Exhibit 3].

This major bypass was not included in the 186 Non-Compliance Reports of 1/1/10-3/23/11

furnished by the EPA. Assuming the EPA gave me all of the Non-Compliance Reports which

VIWMA prepared, then there are no Non-Compliance Reports for a major bypass, in clear

violation of the TPDES Permit and the Clean Water Act.

VIWMA HAS REFUSED TO GIVE REQUIRED PUBLIC NOTICE OF SEWAGE BYPASSES

I have reviewed the Avis and VI Daily News publications, and VIWMA did not give

notice of raw sewage bypasses in these publications according to the TPDES Permit or

3/18/10 Court Order. For example, although there were bypasses at LBJ for at least

4/24/10-4/27/10, at a critical time, during Ironman Triathlon practice swims and just before the

5/2/10 Ironman Race itself, Public Notices were not published every day, and apparently the

beaches were not posted either. There were newspaper articles written, on 4/28 and 4/29, after

the fact, but no public notices in the papers during the dumping of raw sewage. This event was

was barely a month after last year’s Court Order of 3/18/10 directing VIWMA to give Public

Notices as mandated in the TPDES Permit.

From January 27 through February 9, 2011, VIWMA conducted a 13 day, 11.5 hour raw

sewage bypass at LBJ for a new force main. This major planned  bypass should have been

therefore reported in public notices, every day, from January 26, 2011 the day before the bypass

was to commence, through February 10, 2011, the day after the bypass was completed. Instead,

there was a newspaper article in the  VI Daily News on 2/5/11, and one Public Notice in the Avis

on 2/9/11. [Exhibits 19-20].

VIWMA submitted a Non-Compliance Report for January 4, 2011, stating Weymouth

Rhymer station in St. Thomas was having an “Ongoing” bypass, [Exhibit 18] but nothing was

reported in the VI Daily News on January 4th or January 5th, 2011.  Similarly, there were 13 Non-

Compliance Reports for 13 different areas and pump stations on 8/30-8/31, including an

“Ongoing” bypass in NaNa Gut, [Exhibits 2, 17] yet there were no Public Notices in the VI

Daily News for those dates.

There were 2 different bypasses from 2/24/11 to 3/2/11, one broken force main adjacent to

Hovensa, of 6 days 6 hours, and one Figtree broken force main of  5 days 22 hours [Exhibits 23-

24] . Notice was published in the Avis from February 27-March 4 for the Hovensa force main

break, [Exhibit 21] but the notice was run without spacing, in a single column at the end of the

classified ads, not a boxed notice such as the notice of Exhibit 20, which made it difficult to read

and easy to overlook.

During this past month, April – May, 2011, LBJ has been bypassing since sometime in

April. Again, this dumping of raw sewage occurred during the practice swims or even during the

Ironman Triathlon Race itself. VIWMA published identical Public Notices on April 27-29, in the

VI Daily News, [Exhibit 4] but the notices do not give start or stop dates, and VI Daily News

May 4, 2011 newspaper article states that the impacted line “currently is causing an overflow of

sewage in the area”  [Exhibit 5], indicating that the discharge was still ongoing as of May 4,

2011. (If so, the Ironman Triathletes were downstream of LBJ, while LBJ was bypassing raw

sewage during their 1.5 mile swimming race at Christiansted Harbor on May 1, 2011.)

Therefore, the public has no idea when the dumping of raw sewage has started or stopped,

or if it is still continuing today. That same article states that Figtree was bypassing raw

sewage into Cane Garden Bay on May 3, 2011. Indeed, AUSA Frankel cited a May 10, 2011

Non-Compliance Report showing a bypass, which was not reported in the VI Daily News.

When I questioned the Media Relations Coordinator of DPNR about the lack of posting

warning signs on beaches, he confirmed that DPNR does not enforce that requirement, and the

excuse for violating Court Orders was that the hotels don’t like the warning signs. When asked

for the rationale of not posting on non-hotel beaches either, the response was that such posting

would not be fair. Clearly, public safety is not the priority, or following Court Orders.

VIWMA VIOLATED THE 3/18/10 COURT ORDER ON FIGTREE PUMP STATION

On 3/18/10, this Honorable Court ordered that VIWMA keep operational the Flygt house

pump  borrowed from LBJ Pump Station and installed at Figtree in March, 2010. Further,

VIWMA was ordered to get another house pump for Figtree by 3/23/10, and that both pumps

were to be properly maintained and kept operational.

Despite these very specific court orders, according to the 4/11/11 Declaration of Pedro

Modesto, of the EPA, as of March 16, 2011, a year after the Court Order, only the one Flygt

house pump borrowed from LBJ is working at Figtree. The EPA’s Final Submission states that

the 8” Thompson Diesel Back-Up Pump being used at Figtree is “still not able to pump the entire

flow coming into the station.” This statement implies that a partial bypass may be occurring now.

VIWMA VIOLATED THE COURT ORDER ON CANCRYN PUMP STATION

The Cancryn Station pumps 2.5 million gallons of sewage per day in St. Thomas. The

3/18/10 Order specified that VIWMA maintain the 10-inch pump allegedly in operation at that

time, and that VIWMA further certify that the Cancryn pump station have both a six-inch and a

four-inch auxiliary diesel back-up pumps in working order.

VIWMA submitted its certification to the Court on March 23, 2010.  However, in a VI

Daily News article of April 16, 2010, several weeks later, May Adams Cornwall, the Executive

Director of VIWMA is quoted, stating:

“St. Thomas’ Cancryn pump station – the island’s main station-A has been without a

working pump for close to nine months, Cornwall said. A contractor is diverting flow

around  Cancryn to another station while cleaning takes place. The station should be

back up  and running by the end of April, Cornwall said.”

[Exhibit 22].

Further, VIWMA represented during the March 2010 hearing that it would completely

upgrade Cancryn Station using EPA or Dept. of the Interior (DOI) funds. Regardless, on March

16, 2011, a year later, VIWMA admitted to the EPA that it has not begun to upgrade the station,

replacing or repairing pumps and valves, according to the EPA Submission of April 11, 2011.

VIWMA VIOLATED THE COURT ORDER ON AUXILIARY PUMPS

The 3/18/10 Court Order also specifies that 2 auxiliary diesel pumps shall be operational on

St. Croix, by March 26, 2010 (and remain operational). VIWMA avers that the Figtree Diesel

Pump, the LBJ Diesel Pump, and the 6″ Thompson pump used to pump waste over Long Reef

were all operational. In contrast, according to the 4/11/11 Declaration of Pedro Modesto, of the

EPA, these pumps have only been intermittently operational since the Emergency Hearing.

VIWMA reported in early September, 2010, that all three of these backup pumps were non-

operational, and in October, 2010 two of these pumps were not operational. These pump failures

appear to coincide with 8 days of raw sewage bypasses commencing on 9/1/10, as shown by the

Summary of Non-Compliance Reports, Exhibit 2.

THE EPA IS WITHHOLDING FROM THE PUBLIC THE QUANTITY OF RAW SEWAGE BYPASSED INTO COASTAL WATERS

Pursuant to Section 184-26(a)(3) of the TPDES Permit, any information obtained pursuant

to any monitoring, records, reporting or sampling shall be available to the public. The Permit

further specifies: “(b) Claims of confidentiality for the following information will be denied:…

(2) …effluent data.”   33 U.S.C. § 1318 (b) of the Clean Water Act also states specifically that

effluent data shall be available to the public.

Since the Non-Compliance Reports were incomplete, I renewed my FOIA request to the

EPA several times, urging the EPA to furnish to me the start and stop dates and rate of flow for

all raw sewage bypasses, so that I could fully present this evidence to the Court. [Exhibits 8-12].

The EPA has not supplied any further information beyond the Non-Compliance Reports

previously furnished, even though the EPA was to furnish this data on or before 4/18/11.

Further, it appears from remarks by EPA personnel and the reports themselves that the

EPA redacted the flow quantity from the Non-Compliance Reports before furnishing them to me.

Neither the EPA attorneys nor the FOIA Officer for Region 2 with whom I have consulted have

claimed this information is privileged, or given any reason or excuse for failing to comply with 5

U.S. Code §552.

THE EPA GROSSLY UNDERSTATED RAW SEWAGE BYPASSES TO THE COURT

Although I have beseeched the EPA repeatedly to do so, the  EPA will not even alert the

Court to the massive raw sewage bypasses which have occurred since the 3/18/10 Court Order.

[Exhibits 10-12]  Indeed, the EPA’s submission of April 11, 2011 grossly understates these

bypasses.

The EPA does not tell the Court Figtree had bypasses in February and March, 2011 of 5

Days  22 hours and one (by Hovensa) of 6 Days 6 Hours. The EPA mentions a Barren Spot

bypass of 3 days, while the bypass of 3/13/11 – 3/23/11 was actually for 10 days.  Barren Spot

had 18 days 18 hours 30 min. of bypasses, from 3/18/10-3/28/11 in addition to however long

Barren Spot was bypassing during Hurricane Earl.

The EPA mentions some small bypasses by Mon Bijou and Campo Rico pump stations, but

left out a 4/10/2010-4/13/2010 3 day bypass at Mt.Bijou. Other Pump Station Bypasses not

mentioned by the EPA: Lagoon Street PS 3 days 22 hours,  Humbug II PS 5 Days 3 ½ Hours,

NaNa Gut PS 3 Days 6 Hours. Weymouth Rhymer PS and NaNa Gut had bypasses listed as

ONGOING, without any further information, and throughout the territory many pump stations

were out during Hurricane Earl, commencing 8/30/10, without mandatory stop dates. [Exhibits

1,2, 17, 18].

The agency failed to report the major bypasses of LBJ Pump Station. Since Figtree has

LBJ’s Flygt pump and Barren Spot has LBJ’s Back-up pump, it is no surprise that LBJ has had

bypasses from 4/24/10-4/27/10, 9/8/10-9/11/10 and 1/27/11-2/9/11, over 19 days of dumping

raw sewage over Long Reef, in addition to the bypass occurring during April-May 2011,

or still Ongoing, as mentioned above [Exhibits 1-5, 19-20].

I declare under penalty of perjury that, based on information personally known to me,

information provided to me by persons at the EPA, DPNR and VIWMA, and my review of

newspaper articles pertaining to this matter, the foregoing is true and correct to the best of my

information and belief.

Respectfully submitted,

_______________________

Susan K. Wolterbeek, Pro Se

PO Box 306658

St. Thomas, VI 00803

(340) 714-2233

susan@GreenerVI.org

Territory of the US Virgin Islands

District of St. Thomas and St. John

 

This is What the Citizen’s Lawsuit is About

Citizen’s Lawsuit against the EPA and VIWMA, Exhibit 2

1/1/2010-3/23/2011 VIWMA Non-Compliance Reports concerning raw sewage

1/4/2010 VI Resource Center sewage into street paper and debris in line          2 Hours

1/7/2010  Chicken Fry 102 Contant overflow rocks and debris in line               1 Hour

1/11/2010 Campo Rico PS Vent line clogged sewage overflowed                      3 Hours 30 min.

1/12/2010 56 Prindsens Gade sewage into street /rocks and debris                     1 Hour 30 min.

1/11/2010 296A Hospital Ground sewage into street rocks and debris                1 Hour

1/14/2010 St. Croix Renaissance Manhole overflow                                           1 Hour 40 min.

1/15/2010 Mon Bijou PS pump motor malfunction causing overflow          5 hours

1/17/2010  Fig Tree PS house pump failed                                                       5 Hours 30 min.

1/19/2010 Seventh Day Gut sewage overflow/ sand and debris                           1 Hour

1/19/2010 Market Square sewage overflow into street /grease and debris           1 Hour

1/19/2010 Estate Thomas 14QL sewage into street/ grease rocks, stones            2 Hours

1/21/2010 Fig Tree PS  suction house air locked preventing back-up system  1 Hour 30 min.

1/21/2010 Over the Bridge Bar  Excessive Grease and Debris in Line                1 Hour

1/22/2010 Fig Tree PS suction hose defective                                                      5 Hours

1/24/2010 Fig Tree PS Backup Diesel pump air locked                                      1 Hour 30 min.

1/25/2010 17 ABC Prindsens Gade  Excessive rocks and debris in line              1 Hour 30 min.

1/30/2010 Barren Spot PS Pump coupling broke                                             2 Hours 10 min.

2/1/2010 Humbug 1 PS  Pump was air locked                                                  30 minutes

2/4/2010 ED Plumbing Manhole overflow excessive rocks, debris in line          1 Hour 30 min.

2/4/2010-2/5/2010 149 Hospital Ground/grease, debris     says 15 hrs. actually 17 Hours

2/4/2010 146-100 Anna’s Retreat Manhole overflow/excess sand and debris     1 Hour

2/4/2010 Windward Passage Manhole overflow excess rocks and debris           1 Hour

2/5/2010-2/6/2010 15 Crown Bay fill grease, debris says 17 hours, actually     20 Hours

2/7/2010 Kirwan Terrace Lindbergh Bay excess grease and rocks                     1 Hour 30 min.

2/7/2010 Frenchtown McDonald’s manhole overflow grease and debris            2 Hours

2/4/2010 ONGOING LBJ PS  Figtree pumps sent off island substit. LBJ diesel Ongoing

“Pumping over the Reef”

2/10/2010-ONGOING   Barren Spot PS pump failure Ongoing

2/16/2010 Dept. of Labor 2353 Kronprindsens Gade Manhole overflow           5 Hours

2/16/2010 Frenchtown McDonald’s Manhole overflow grease and debris         1 Hour

2/17/2010 Frenchtown McDonald’s Manhole overflow grease and debris         2 Hours

2/17/2010 55 Dronningens Gade Manhole overflow/grease and debris              2 Hours

2/17/2010 2nd Street Estate Thomas Manhole overflow grease and debris         1 Hour 30 min.

2/18/2010 Market Square Manhole overflow grease and debris                         2 Hours

2/18/2010-2/19/2010 Crown Bay Bldg17/Texas Pit/grease, debris                    21 Hours

2/20/2010 14QL Estate Thomas Manhole overflow/dirt, rocks, clothing           2 Hours

2/22/2010 Ulla Miller School Manhole overflow/ grease and debris                  2 Hours

3/19/2010-3/20/2010  Contant 2A-1 Manhole overflow grease/debris               19 Hours

3/20/2010 Domino’s Gas Station, Contant Manhole overflow/grease                2 Hours 30 min.

3/26/2010-4/3/2010 16A-17 Commandant Gade  overflow/grease, debris         9 Days

4/1/2010-4/3/2010 Savan Red Ball Grocery Manhole overflow/grease/sand     48 Hours

4/3/2010 385 Mon Bijou dirt and grease caused lines to clog                             3 Hours 30 min.

4/3/2010 395 Mt. Pleasant manhole overflow                                                     3 Hours

4/4/2010-4/5/2010 Ulla Muller Tamarind Tree overflow/grease, debris             24 Hours

4/4/2010-4/5/2010 200-7-1 Altona  overflow/grease, debris                              25 Hours 30 min.

4/4/2010-4/5/2010 Nadir Racetrack  overflow/sand, debris                               24 Hours 30 min.

4/7/2010 New TuTu Lower Valley PS illegal load of sludge                          4 Hours

4/10/2010-4/13/2010 102 Mt.Bijou Hairline crack in #6 Force Main            3 Days 1 Hour

4/12/2010   Mon Bijou PS Electrical Panel Malfunctioned                            4 Hours 44 min.

4/13/2010  346 Mon Bijou  sewer lines clogged with grease and dirt                22 Hours 15 min.

4/15/2010-4/16/2010 14Q Estate Thomas Manhole overflow/sand, grease       21 Hours

4/16/2010 2nd Street Estate Thomas Manhole overflow/sand, grease                     4 Hours

4/17/2010-4/18/2010 Vicinity of Gomez School Manhole overflow/grease        27 Hours

4/19/2010 Fig Tree PS electrical switch tripped                                                   36 minutes

4/21/2010-4/22/2010 Behind Old Lucy’s Market overflow/grease, debris          24 Hours

5/3/2010 394-364 Hidden Valley overflow/rocks, debris                                     1 Hour

5/5/2010 Old PWD Yard  station breaker malfunctioned                                     3 Hours 45 min.

5/5/2010 Old PWD Yard  Sewage bubbling Burnt and defective wiring             1 Hours 30 min.

5/10/2010-5/11/2010 394 C-2 Anna’s Retreat Manhole overflow/grease debris 18 Hours

5/12/2010-5/13/2010 1st Ave. Sugar Estate sewage into gut/grease, debris         26 Hours 30 min.

5/14/2010 Concordia PS Discharge Vent Hose line came loose                           45 minutes

5/19/2010 Concordia PS Pump Vent Line Clogged                                              45 minutes

5/24/2010 Bluebeard’s Castle overflow into street/stone, debris                          1 Hour 30 min.

5/24/2010 23-15 Commandant Gade Manhole overflow/grease, debris               4 Hours

6/13/2010 Barren Spot PS Pump Coupling Sheared                                        1 Day 4 Hours

6/15/2010 202 Anna’s Retreat Manhole overflow/sand, stone, debris                 5 Hours 30 min.

6/17/2010 Crown Bay Marina sewage backing up into business/grease,debris   3 Hours

6/19/2010 Cancryn PS Pump impeller clogged                                                    30 minutes

6/19/2010 Cancryn PS Shut PS off to prevent overflowing reg. 6MGD              3 Hours

6/19/2010 Bovoni Texaco Both pumps tripped off-line/storm water                   1 Hour

6/19/2010 Long Bay PS All pumps blocked with stormwater debris                 2 Hours

6/20/2010 Long Bay PS Both Pump impellers blocked                                        2 Hours

6/20/2010 Bovoni Texaco Both Pumps tripped/clogged stormwater debris        4 Hours

6/28/2010 Barren Spot PS Pump vent line Plugged                                           1 Hour 15 min.

7/4/2010 239 Concordia Clogged Sewer Line                                                 16 Hours 50 min.

7/20/2010 Mangrove Lift Station Sewage overflow, heavy rain                          6 Hours

7/21/2010 Market Square overflow into street/grease, stones, debris                   6 Hours

7/21/2010 Savan Lutheran Church sewage in street/ grease, rags debris              3 Hours 30 min.

7/21/2010 Polyberg Domino’s Gas sewage in street/ grease, stones, debris         3 Hours

7/24/2010 Mangrove Lift Station Sewage overflow, pump tripped                      1 Hour 15 min.

7/26/2010-7-27/2010 Savan Basketball Ct. overflow onto Bask. Ct/dirt,stone  30 Hours

7/26/2010 Prindsens Gade sewage in street/ grease, sand, debris                         2 Hours

7/27/2010 Pearson Gardens overflow into street/ grease and stone                      2 Hours

7/27/2010 199AB Hospital Ground sewage in street/rocks,dirt debris                 1 Hour

7/27/2010 Subbase Tennis Courts Sewage in Street/ grease, gravel, stone          9 Hours

7/30/2010 #3A Mon Bijou Manhole clogged with tree roots and debris              2 Hours

8/5/2010 #3A Mon Bijou Manhole clogged with tree roots and debris                1 Hour

8/18/2010 Polyberg Domino’s gas sewage into street /sand, stone, debris           2 Hours

8/18/2010 Jah Yard Hospital Ground sewage into street /sand, stone, debris       2 Hours

8/19/2010 Barren Spot PS Pump lost its prime                                                1 Hour 45 min.

8/21/2010 Barren Spot PS Couplings were destroyed                                    15 Hours 30 min.

8/23/2010 Green Corner sewage into street grease/gravel/debris                            3 Hours

8/21/2010 Dept. of Labor sewage into street/ Sand, grease debris                          2 Hours 30 min.

8/23/2010 Campo Rico PS Diesel pump suction line separated                        2 Hours 35 min.

8/24/2010  Barren Spot PS Couplings were off balanced                                        2 Hours

8/30/2010 Fig Tree PS Electrical surge                                                                1 Hour 15 min.

8/30/2010  Barren Spot House Pump Failed                                                       1 Hour 45 min.

8/30/2010-8/31/2010 New TuTu Lower Valley Pump PS failed/loss electric         1 Day?

8/30/2010-8/31/2010 Bovoni Texaco PS  failed/loss electric power Hurr. Earl      1 Day?

8/30/2010-8/31/2010 Bovoni Housing PS  failed/loss electric power Hurr. Earl    1 Day?

8/30/2010-8/31/2010 Weymouth Rhymer PS  failed/loss electric power Hurr. Earl  1 Day?

8/30/2010-8/31/2010 Subbase PS failed/loss electric power Hurr. Earl                     1 Day?

8/30/2010  NaNa Gut PS  failed/loss electric power Hurr. Earl ONGOING

8/30/2010-8/31/2010 Cancryn PS  failed/loss electric power Hurr. Earl       11 Hours 30 min.

8/30/2010-8/31/2010 Long Bay PS  failed/loss electric power Hurr. Earl                  1 Day?

8/30/2010-8/31/2010 Airport PS  failed/loss electric power Hurr. Earl                      1 Day?

8/30/2010-8/31/2010 Bourfield Amco PS  failed/loss electric power Hurr. Earl        1 Day?

8/31/2010  Campo Rico PS WAPA Power Surges- pump malfunction         1 Hour 15 min.

9/1/2010 Ulla Muller School  Manhole overflow/ grease, debris                               7 Hours

9/1/2010 Green Corner   sewage in street/ grease, stones debris                                7 Hours

9/1/2010-9/3/2010 Barren Spot Broken 8” sewer force main                     2 Days 5 Hours

9/5/2010-9/7/2010 Barren Spot House Pump Failed                           2 Days 9 Hours 30 min.

9/8/2010 Barren Spot PS House Pump Failed                                                          12 Hours

9/8/2010-9/11/2010  LBJ Broken Force Main                                      2 Days 18 Hours 30 min.

9/9/2010 3359-3360 Nadir Manhole overflow stone and debris                                6 Hours

9/9/2010 Na Na Gut PS impeller pump clogged with debris                           3 Hours 30 min.

9/13/2010 Cancryn PS station off-line flow control relay malfunction              50 minutes

9/13/2010 11B Lindbergh Bay Happy View into street/dirt, paper, debris                2 Hours

9/14/2010 Estate TuTu E1 Manhole overflow/rocks, bottles, grease debris              3 Hours

9/14/2010 2-25 Bovoni Sewage in street/ stones, gravel, debris                                1 Hour

9/16/2010-9/17/2010 Garden Street Villa Fair View sewage in st/dirt, paper     25 Hours, 30 min.

9/17/2010 1-2 Haabets Gade Sewage in Street/dirt, wire hangers, paper                  4 Hours

9/19/2010 Backstreet Manhole overflow/excessive grease                                    3 Hours 30 min.

9/19/2010 #84 Contant Sewage in Street/excess gravel and stone                         1 Hour 30 min.

9/20/2010 35 Anna’s Retreat Sewage in Street/dirt, tree roots                                  3 Hours

9/21/2010 Bovoni Racetrack Sewage overflow/rocks, gravel                                   3 Hours

9/22/2010 Fig Tree PS electrical malfunction                                                       30 minutes

9/23/2010 Campo Rico PS suction hose came away                                             59 minutes

12/2/2010 Campo Rico PS clogged vent line                                                         40 minutes

12/2/2010-12/3/2010 Barren Spot ditch line for diesel pump separated      27 Hours 15 min.

12/5/2010 Ramsey Guest House Sewage in Street/Sand, grease, gravel                1 Hour 30 min.

12/6/2010 394-171 Anna’s Retreat overflow into yard/ sand and gravel               3 Hours

12/6/2010 Bovoni Racetrack Sewage in Street/ sand and gravel                           4 Hours 30 min.

12/13/2010-12/14/2010 394-134 Hidden Valley sewage in yd/debris, sand        25 Hours 30 min.

12/13/2010-12/14/2010 11B Upper Contant sewage in yd/sand, gravel              24 Hours

12/15/2010 Hospital Ground (Wallace Bldg) overflowing/grease, gravel             2 Hours

12/18/2010 Lagoon Street PS house pump failed-sewage overflow                 3 days 22 hours

1/4/2011 Weymouth Rhymer PS      Force Main Break Ongoing

1/4/2011  143A 13 Anna’s Retreat   Sewage overflowing excessive rags, debris  2 Hours

1/6/2011-1/10/2011 148-50 Anna’s Retreat overflow, excess. Rags, debris          4 Days 2 Hours

1/7/2011-1/10/2011 146 92 Anna’s Retreat overflow/ excessive rags, debris        3 Days 3 Hours

1/9/2011-1/14/2011 Humbug II PS Obstructed Force Main                          5 Days 3 ½ Hours

1/10/2011 Chicken Fry manhole overflow excessive grease, debris                      2 Hours 30 min.

1/10/2011 Metro Motors  overflow-excessive sand and stone                                2 Hours 30 min.

1/10/2011 Frenchtown manhole overflow/excessive Grease                                  4 Hours

1/10/2011 Soto Town, Contant sewage overflow/sand and dirt                              4 Hours

1/14/2011 St Croix Rennaissance sewer line clogged with dirt                               1 Hour 30 min.

1/16/2011   Campo Rico PS  clogged suction line                                              2 Hours 12 min.

1/27/2011-2/9/2011 LBJ new force main “10 days 11.5 hrs”     (actually 13 Days 11.5 Hours)

1/30/2011  148-166 Estate TuTu  Manhole overflow/excessive dirt, rocks           26 Hours

1/31/ 2011   Campo Rico PS wastewater overflow/clogged vent line                    25 minutes

1/31/2011    46 Sion Farm  Manhole overflow/grease clogged line                       2 Hours

1/31/2011 Frenchtown Excessive dirt rocks and stones in line                              3 Hours

2/2/2011 29-A Contant Sewage overflow, grease and gravel                                1 Hour 30 min.

2/3/2011 #5 First Street, Sugar Estate sewage overflowing                                   4 Hours 30 min.

2/3/2011 Cancryn PS WAPA outage caused pump to fail                                    12 Hours

2/11/2011-2/14/2011 Peter’s Rest Manhole Overflow (48 Hrs/30 min) real:    72 Hours 30 min.

2/14/2011 125-60 Old TuTu sewage overflow- excess stone, gravel, debris       1 Hour 30 min.

2/14/2011 Long Path Garden Street overflow-paper towel, gravel, debris           1 Hour 30 min.

2/16/2011 Gomez School Sewage overflow- excess grease in line                      1 Hour

2/17/2011 Chicken Fry manhole overflow excess grease and debris                   2 Hours 30 min.

2/17/2011  Credit Union 34B-35 Norre Gade manhole overflow                         1 Hour 30 min.

2/18/2011 172 Anna’s Retreat manhole overflow, excess rocks sand, debris      3 Hours 45 min.

2/22/2011  29A Contant Sewage overflowing                                                       1 Hour 30 min.

2/22/2011 Monbijou PS Busted Suction Line Gasket                                        2 Hours 15 min.

2/22/2011-2/23/2011 McDonald’s, Frenchtown overflow-excessive grease        24 Hours

2/22/2011-2/23/2011 NaNa Gut PS sewage flowed into gut                                 1 Day?

2/23/2011 Barren Spot PS busted discharge hose                                           3 Hours 15 min.

2/23/2011 Weymouth Rhymer PS   pump was air locked                              3 Hours 15 min.

2/23/2011 New TuTu lower PS station overflow                                              2 Hours

2/23/2011 Chicken Fry excessive grease and debris in line                                   2 Hours 30 min.

2/23/2011 Contant Car Wash sewage overflowing into street-rocks, gravel         1 Hour 30 min.

2/23/2011 Palms Strada #16GB manhole overflow excess grease, debris             4 Hours

2/24/2011-3/2/2011 Force main adj to Hovensa Broken Force Main            6 Days 6 Hours

2/24/2011-3/2/2011 Fig Tree PS  Broken Force Main                                     5 Days  22 hours

2/25/2011-3/1/2011 Hospital Ground sewage into street/gravel, stones             4 Days 35 min.

3/2/2011 Barren Spot PS pump impeller was blocked with debris                         10 minutes

3/3/2011-3/4/2011 Monbijou PS Defective Pump bypassing                              22 ½ Hours

3/10/2011 Campo Rico PS Clogged Suction Line                                                  50 minutes

3/10/2011 178 and 236 Altona and Welgunst excess branches, trees, debris           2 Hours

3/12/2011   Campo Rico PS “Non- compliance Form will follow”                      15 minutes

3/13/2011-3/23/2011 Barren Spot PS/submersible pump had elec. failure       10 Days

3/14/2011-3/15/2011  Anna’s Retreat basketball ct. grease, rocks                 1 Day 1 Hour 15 min.

3/14/2011-3/15/2011 First Ave. Sugar Estate into street grease/debris                   24 Hours

3/18/2011 New TuTu Lower PS pump station off-line shaft seal failed          1 Hour 30 min.

3/21/2011-3/24/2011 NaNa Gut PS   Pump impeller                                          3 Days 6 Hours

3/23/2011 Campo Rico PS  Clogged Vent Line                                                 15 minutes

NOTE 1:      SEVERAL OF THE BYPASSES STATE “ONGOING” WITHOUT STOP DATES, SO THE COUNT MAY BE SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER.

NOTE 2:      THESE NON-COMPLIANCE REPORTS ARE NOT COMPLETE. THEY DO NOT REFLECT THE LBJ BYPASS WHICH COMMENCED ON 4/24/10. THAT BYPASS, REPORTED 4/28/10 IN THE VI DAILY NEWS, OCCURRED DURING THE TIME IRONMAN TRIATHLETES SWAM THEIR PRACTICE SWIMS AND JUST BEFORE THE IRONMAN RACE IN CHRISTIANSTED HARBOR ON 5/2/10, IN THE AFFECTED WATERS.

NOTE 3      THE BYPASSES WHICH APPEAR TO HAVE BEEN PUMPED INTO COASTAL WATERS, THROUGH PUMP STATIONS,  ARE BOLDED.

 

EPA Complicit – Grossly Understating Raw Sewage Dumping

This is what we got in response from the EPA:

From: Enck.Judith@epamail.epa.gov [mailto:Enck.Judith@epamail.epa.gov]
Sent: Saturday, April 30, 2011 8:36 PM
To: Susan Wolterbeek
Subject: Re: EPA has allowed at VIWMA to continue dumping millions of gallons of raw sewage into our territorial waters, despite court order and federal laws designed to protect us

Thanks. We will get back to you in about 2 weeks
Sent by EPA Wireless E-Mail Services

The following is an emailed letter sent to the EPA, NOAA,  The Center For Biological Diversity and the VI Daily News

Susan K. Wolterbeek
President, GreenerVI.org
P.O. Box 306658
St. Thomas, VI 00803-6658

April 29, 2011

Judith Enck
Regional Administrator
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
New York, New York 10007-1866
Enck.Judith@epamail.epa.gov

Administrator Enck:
We Virgin Islanders have a legal right to not have our Caribbean coastal waters filled with raw sewage. Don’t you agree? Although I met with you last May about this, and have written to you several times imploring the EPA to stop allowing millions of gallons of raw sewage to be dumped into our coastal waters, your agency still has not regulated VIWMA.

In the past year since the Court Order of 3/18/10, VIWMA has dumped raw sewage for at least 87 days according to the records which came from your office, and newspaper articles. Last year the rate testified to and reported in the VI Daily News was that raw sewage was pumped out at 1.2 million gallons per day.

If the rate is the same, that means since the 3/18/10 Court Order, 104 million gallons of raw sewage were dumped where people swim and fish, dive and snorkel, where Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles eat, and where Staghorn and Elkhorn Coral live. We humans and these Endangered Species are protected by federal laws which your agency is sworn to uphold.

Nevertheless, within weeks VIWMA had violated the Court Orders, as I kept telling you, yet the dumpings continued, and your agency would not and will not file for Contempt, Receivership, Sanctions, or even alert NOAA that your agency’s actions, each of those bypasses, have occurred, each of which are separate violations of the Endangered Species Act.

I formally requested of your office, through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), the start and stop dates and rate of flow of every bypass of raw sewage in the Territory since 1/1/10. Your office supplied me with many Non-Compliance Reports, but there are significant gaps. The 50 million gallons of raw sewage pumped over Long Reef January-March last year is not reflected in the Non-Compliance Reports for that time period, except for 2 reports, of LBJ and Barren Spot Pump Stations, which simply say “ONGOING BYPASS”.

There have been 150 Non-Compliance Reports, since the 3/18/10 Court Order, and a few of those said “ONGOING BYPASS”, too, which itself is not compliant with federal law or the TPDES Permit, and without start and stop dates, the bypasses may have continued for days, weeks, months, or they are still ongoing, so the actual days of bypass since the 3/18/10 Court Order may be significantly higher than 87. Further, there was a newspaper article about a 10 day bypass of raw sewage over Long Reef April 24-May 4, 2010, right when the Ironman Tri-athletes were swimming in the affected waters, yet there are no Non-Compliance Reports furnished for those dates. How many other major bypasses did not get written into Non-Compliance Reports?

Because the Non-Compliance Reports are woefully incomplete, I have repeatedly renewed my FOIA Request for the start and stop dates and rate of flow from your office so that I may give the Federal District Court accurate figures, yet your FIOA Officer will not release this information, without explanation, in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 552 (6)(A)(i).

In the EPA’s Final Submission, filed with the Federal District Court on 4/11/11, instead of informing the Court about this horrific 87 days bypassing of 104 million gallons of raw sewage which your agency has allowed to continue, your attorneys alluded to some small bypasses and specifically mentioned a Barren Spot 3 day bypass to the judge, [which was in truth March 13-23, 2011, 10 days, by your own records]. The EPA further failed to tell the Court about VIWMA’s continued Contempt of Court Orders by refusing to warn the public with required Public Notices and posting signs on affected beaches. What thought or care is being given to those most at risk-the elderly, pregnant women, people with immune deficiencies, and what of the turtles and coral which live in those waters?

Since the EPA will not give the Court this vital information of VIWMA’s continued willful violation of federal laws and contempt of Court Orders, it falls to us citizens to do the work. We need this continued dumping of raw sewage to stop now, and forever. I am preparing a Citizen’s Suit through a Motion to Intervene, and am asking that your agency now provide to the Public, and the Court, the full, unredacted details of all raw sewage bypasses since 1/1/10, including start dates, stop dates and rates of flow. Further, please tell me whom, if anyone, the EPA has contacted at NOAA, the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior concerning these bypasses, as each of these agencies is affected and should have been notified.

I look forward to hearing from you in regard to these issues, as soon as possible.

Sincerely

Susan K. Wolterbeek
President, GreenerVI.org

cc: Lisa Jackson, Administrator, EPA
Thomas Bigford, NOAA
Miyoko Sakashita, Oceans Director, Center For Biological Diversity
Lowe Davis, VI Daily News

EPA is Stonewalling Release of Raw Sewage Dumping Amounts

From: Susan Wolterbeek [mailto:susan@greenervi.org]
Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2011 11:28 AM
To: ‘Calderon, Wanda’
Cc: ‘Bellow.Bonnie@epamail.epa.gov’; ‘enck.judith@epamail.epa.gov’
Subject: Please follow federal law and honor my FIOA request of 3-28-11
Importance: High

Dear Ms. Calderon:

I am writing to follow-up, again, on my FOIA request of March 28, 2011, due on or before April 18, 2011.  I still have not received the information requested, namely:

“all wastewater discharges in the USVI since January 1, 2010, including when the discharges commenced, when they stopped, and the quantities involved.”

Pursuant to 5 United States Code 552(a)(4)(F):

(i) Whenever the court orders the production of any agency records improperly withheld from the complainant and assesses against the United States reasonable attorney fees and other litigation costs, and the court additionally issues a written finding that the circumstances surrounding the withholding raise questions whether agency personnel acted arbitrarily or capriciously with respect to the withholding, the Special Counsel shall promptly initiate a proceeding to determine whether disciplinary action is warranted against the officer or employee who was primarily responsible for the withholding. The Special Counsel, after investigation and consideration of the evidence submitted, shall submit his findings and recommendations to the administrative authority of the agency concerned and shall send copies of the findings and recommendations to the officer or employee or his representative. The administrative authority shall take the corrective action that the Special Counsel recommends.

Please supply this information immediately. You are already 3 days late, you have stopped even acknowledging my requests, and you yourself are now complicit in postponing my filings in federal district court by continuing to withhold this data which is public information. I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Susan K. Wolterbeek

Is Anyone Home at the EPA?

Please read the two letters to EPA Region 2 Administrator Enck in our Current Crises Page; it is well worth reading.  These two letters are still unanswered since May last year!!!

From: Susan Wolterbeek [mailto:susan@greenervi.org]
Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 12:02 AM
To: ‘Bellow.Bonnie@epamail.epa.gov’
Cc: ‘enck.judith@epamail.epa.gov’
Subject: When will I be receiving the Promised reply to letters dated 5/17/10 and 3/2/11?

Dear Bonnie:

When we spoke several weeks ago, you assured me that I would soon be receiving a response to my letters to the Regional Administrator of last May 17, 2010 and March 2, 2011. Will you now please make this a priority?

Your agency refuses to file for contempt or even alert the Court that VIWMA pumped a further 69+ days of raw sewage into our coastal waters. If the rate was again pumped out at 1.2 million gallons per day,  the polluting surpassed last year’s total. The EPA in its new filing has grossly misstated the facts to the Court, and did not even mention to the Court that VIWMA is not giving required warnings to the public. I look forward to receiving the Promised response to my letter to Judith Enck. Sincerely, Susan

EPA Misleads the Court on Severity of Sewage Dumping

From: Susan Wolterbeek [mailto:susan@greenervi.org]
Sent: Monday, April 11, 2011 11:18 PM
To: ‘Gonzalez.EduardoJ@epamail.epa.gov’
Cc: ‘Feinmark.Phyllis@epamail.epa.gov’; ‘SueParten@aol.com’; ‘donald.frankel@usdoj.gov’; ‘Joycelyn.Hewlett@usdoj.gov’; ‘dave@greenervi.org’; ‘enck.judith@epamail.epa.gov’; ‘Bellow.Bonnie@epamail.epa.gov’
Subject: Corrected data- 69 days of bypasses

Dear Eduardo:

I wanted to give you a quick heads up, because your are significantly misstating facts to Judge Gomez. As you can see by the summary I sent you on March 30, 2011, as well as the above communication by VIWMA, Barren Spot was bypassing from March 13, 2011 through March 23, 2011. There were other bypasses by Barren Spot as well:

6/13/2010 Barren Spot PS Pump Coupling Sheared                                                            1 Day  4 Hours

6/28/2010 Barren Spot PS Pump vent line Plugged                                                             1 Hour 15 min.

8/19/2010 Barren Spot PS Pump lost its prime                                                                    1 Hour 45 min.

8/21/2010 Barren Spot PS Couplings were destroyed                                                        15 Hours 30 min.

8/24/2010  Barren Spot PS Couplings were off balanced                                                    2 Hours

8/30/2010  Barren Spot House Pump Failed                                                                        1 Hour 45 min.

9/1/2010-9/3/2010 Barren Spot Broken 8” sewer force main                                  2 Days 5 Hours

9/5/2010-9/7/2010 Barren Spot House Pump Failed                                                  2 Days 9 Hours 30 min.

9/8/2010 Barren Spot PS House Pump Failed                                                                      12 Hours

12/2/2010-12/3/2010 Barren Spot ditch line for diesel pump separated                  1 Day  3 Hours 15 min.

2/23/2011 Barren Spot PS busted discharge hose                                                                 3 Hours 15 min.

3/13/2011-3/23/2011 Barren Spot PS/submersible pump elec. failure             10 Days 7 Hours 15 min.

Total For Barren Spot:                                                                                                 18 days 18 hours 30 min.

Other major bypasses which you did not mention at all were:

4/23/2010-5/3/2010  Broken Force Main LBJ (Figtree had LBJ’s pump)              10 Days

9/8/2010-9/11/2010  LBJ Broken Force Main                                                            2 Days 18 Hours 30 min.

12/18/2010 Lagoon Street PS house pump failed-sewage overflow                           3 days 22 hours

1/4/2011 Weymouth Rhymer PS      Force Main Break Ongoing

1/9/2011-1/14/2011 Humbug II PS Obstructed Force Main                                       5 Days 3 ½ Hours

1/27/2011-2/9/2011 LBJ new force main “10 days 11.5 hrs”                    (actually 13 Days 11.5 Hours)

2/24/2011-3/2/2011 Force main adj to Hovensa Broken Force Main                         6 Days 6 Hours

2/24/2011-3/2/2011 Fig Tree PS  Broken Force Main                                                 5 Days  22 hours

3/21/2011-3/24/2011 NaNa Gut PS   Pump impeller                                                   3 Days 6 Hours

Total for other pump stations:                                                                                   50 Days 17.5 hours plus Weymouth Rhymer

These 69+ Days of pumping raw sewage into our coastal waters are just the ones that I know about, given the incomplete records, and not including the Hurricane Earl mass outages. There may be many more bypasses, but these are the ones I told you about in my summary from the Non-Compliance Reports I received from Jim Casey. I am hoping to soon receive the more comprehensive information from Mr. Modesto and Mr. Font.

Therefore, you may want to correct your statement to the Court.   It appears that VIWMA may have pumped out more raw sewage over our reefs this year than they did last year. Your continued refusal to enforce the statute and move for contempt is inexplicable. Sincerely, Susan

 

VIWMA Dumping Sewage Report are Non-Compliant

Dear Mr. Modesto and Mr. Font:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act I have previously requested, of the EPA:

“all wastewater discharges in the USVI since January 1, 2010,
including when the discharges commenced, when they stopped,
and the quantities involved.”

As you know, Part II of the TPDES Permit Section B General Conditions 18. Availability of Information states that this information shall be made available to the public without further notice. Mr. Casey agreed that this is public information and provided me with the attached Non-Compliance Reports, which themselves are unfortunately woefully incomplete. Some reports simply say “Ongoing” in regard to bypasses during a period of days or weeks when VIWMA has been actively pumping millions of gallons of raw sewage into our coastal waters.  There are no stop dates or quantities listed.  I am attaching a summary of these discharges, as reported in the Non-Compliance Reports.  Please inform me as to the name and title of the people at DPNR and the EPA who have the responsibility of reviewing these documents for compliance with the mandates of federal law, court orders and the TPDES permits.

There were newspaper articles and press releases printed in the VI Newspapers which also indicate further bypasses, for which there are not any Non-Compliance Reports at all.  One example of this is the bypass which occurred on St. Croix April 24-May 3, 2010, as reflected in the attached article.

Therefore, the information requested has not been fully furnished to me. I understand that you would be the people who would have the specific information requested, including where the bypass occurred and why, start dates, stop dates, and the quantity of flow.  Would you please provide this previously requested information, in full, immediately, or as soon as possible, as I will be filing documents with the Federal District Court, this week, and I am endeavoring to be as accurate as possible with the data supplied to the Court. I appreciate your supplying this information, because the court would want it to be supplied now that it is considering the current condition of the wastewater systems, and whether VIWMA has been compliant with previous court orders. Perhaps your counsel has already requested this information.

In addition, please specify the name and title of the people responsible for confirming that every time there is a bypass exceeding 8 hours, that public notice is given according to the TPDES Permit and the Federal Court Order. I understand that DPNR oversees VIWMA, but who at DPNR and who at the EPA are in charge of reviewing this compliance or lack thereof? Were you aware that VIWMA (and DPNR) have not been following this court order and important condition of the TPDES Permit?

Finally, will there be any communication from the EPA to the Triathletes, or from the EPA to the Health Department concerning the triathletes, who will soon be swimming in the affected waters? From a legal perspective, since the EPA is the regulatory agency, it is responsible to the people of the Virgin Islands for allowing VIWMA to continue pumping raw sewage over long reef. I believe it is the EPA’s obligation, at the very least, to give the Department of Health all the facts concerning the bypasses. Please let me know if you intend to do so. Thank you, in advance,  for your prompt reply. Sincerely, Susan K. Wolterbeek

EPA is hiding the Raw Sewage Flow Quantities!

Ms. Calderon:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act I have previously requested, of the EPA:

“all wastewater discharges in the USVI since January 1, 2010,
including when the discharges commenced, when they stopped,
and the quantities involved.”

I have not received that information. I have received Non-Compliance Reports, which do not state the above information. There are no reports, or very limited information, when the very worst bypasses occurred. For example, the EPA proved to the federal district court that between January and March, 2010, VIWMA pumped over 50 million gallons of raw sewage into our coastal waters. Now look at the Non-Compliance reports for that 2 month period. These reports do not give the required start and stop dates,  or the quantities involved. See, i.e. Barren Spot attachment.   It is my understanding that given his prior testimony, Mr. Modesto has this information, and Mr. Font is above him.

VIWMA dumped again April 23-May3, 2010. There are no Non-Compliance Report for those dates. This January-March, 2011, again VIWMA has been pumping raw sewage into our coastal waters. I AM ASKING FOR THIS PREVIOUSLY REQUESTED DATA.

In addition, I am asking for the names and titles of the people in DPNR and EPA who supervise and/or regulate VIWMA. Who reviews VIWMA’s Non-Compliance Reports? Who ensures that VIWMA is following the requirements of the TPDES Permit? Who ensures that VIWMA and DPNR are in compliance with the current court orders in regard to having the necessary, maintained equipment, and giving the public notice when bypasses occur?

Please provide this information. Given the fact that Federal District Judge Gomez was outraged that VIWMA pumped 50 million gallons of raw sewage over our reefs last year, he will want to know the quantity of raw sewage that VIWMA dumped over our reefs this year, and who is responsible.    I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible. Sincerely, Susan K. Wolterbeek

Governor orders DPNR to look into HOVENSA Water distribution

By DANIEL SHEA (Daily News Staff)
Published: December 13, 2010

HOVENSA is coming under greater scrutiny following Thursday’s release of hydrocarbons.

ST. CROIX – After the latest release of gases from the HOVENSA refinery, Gov. John deJongh Jr. has directed the commissioner of the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources to provide an operational assessment and recommendations on how the government can better monitor the emissions released into the air by the refinery.

Thursday’s release of hydrocarbons from HOVENSA was the fourth since mid-September. It caused sickness – vomiting, skin and eye irritation, dizziness – in nearly 200 students at St. Croix Central High School. The school closed early two days in a row as a result. At least 36 people went to Luis Hospital for treatment, the hospital said.

Since the release, a number of local politicians and community members have called for stricter monitoring of the air quality around and downwind from HOVENSA.

“I am very concerned by this string of emission incidents that we have witnessed since Sept. 17, and Thursday’s incident appeared to have been the most severe, causing several hundred people to seek medical attention,” deJongh said in a prepared statement.

The governor said he has directed DPNR Commissioner Robert Mathes to provide an assessment on steps that must be taken to “further enhance the government’s monitoring capabilities of the refinery” within 15 days. Mathes is also to talk with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about an operational assessment of the refinery.

In the past, government agencies have allowed HOVENSA to take the reins on any cleanup or remediation efforts after such releases. In fact, HOVENSA monitors its own emissions and provides the government with the only data available on how much gas and oil are released into the air.

That information is generally only released after an EPA-sanctioned threshold is broken.

Since Thursday’s incident, many have called for independent government monitoring of the refinery’s emissions, including V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen, Sens. Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly and Sawn-Michael Malone, and St. Croix Environmental Association Executive Director Paul Chakroff.

Over the weekend, HOVENSA personnel cleaned up the hydrocarbons released Thursday that were deposited on Central High School, according to V.I. Education Department spokeswoman Juel Anderson.

DeJongh said he is also considering contracting an “oil refinery expert” to conduct an assessment of HOVENSA operations and to make an independent review of the impact on the lives and well-being of those who work at the refinery. He said he will wait for the results of talks among DPNR, HOVENSA and the EPA to make that move.

DPNR is preparing notices of violation for the four incidents, which will impose monetary fines against the refinery and require corrective action.

While speaking sternly about the mishaps at HOVENSA, the governor also alluded to the refinery’s massive economic impact in the territory, calling it an “extremely critical part of our economy.”

HOVENSA makes up close to 20 percent of the territory’s gross domestic product, according to V.I. Bureau of Economic Research Director Lauritz Mills.The V.I. Health Department is advising residents of Estate Clifton Hill and Fredensborg not to consume water from their cisterns until further notice.

 

Repairs Force WMA to Divert Sewage Over Long Reef

By Source Staff — January 18, 2011

The LBJ sewer system pump station will be taken offline Wednesday and sewage temporarily pumped into the sea for 10 days while a V.I. Waste Management Authority contractor finishes part of the work to replace the LBJ sewer force main, according to the WMA.

VIWMA is advising residents of the LBJ Housing Community and surrounding areas to avoid groundwater in the area as it may be contaminated with sewage.

Contractor GEC is doing the work, which includes:
– Shutting down of the LBJ Pump Station and pumping over Long Reef for roughly 10 days;
– Connecting the newly installed 24-inch force main to the existing system;
– Replacing the flow meter and stand pipe at the pump station; and
– Cleaning the pump station’s wet well.

To complete this work, the LBJ Pump Station will be placed offline Wednesday and will remain offline until Jan. 27th.

According to VIWMA, this is being conducted in accordance and in compliance with the Authority’s Territorial Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit and notification has been provided to the regulatory agencies as required.

This phase of work began with the replacement of a portion of the force main from the LBJ Pump Station, south along the access road and then east along Route 751, which runs adjacent to the LBJ Housing Community toward the WAPA Richmond Plant.

Workers installed roughly 1,300 linear feet of 24-inch PVC piping parallel to the existing force main line.

Once the sewer line work is complete, workers will repair the roadway, sidewalk or road apron, according to VIWMA.

 

Feds sue V.I. over landfills

By CONSTANCE COOPER, reporter, Daily News Staff
Published: July 16, 2010

ST. THOMAS — The federal government has filed a lawsuit against the V.I. Waste Management Authority and the Virgin Islands government that could cost the territory hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for their failure to bring the territory’s landfills up to Environmental Protection Agency standards.

“As a responsible community, we’re finding that if you don’t do enough to comply with regulations in the beginning, you end up paying for the compliance in the end,” Waste Management Authority Director May Adams Cornwall said in an interview. “I would have hoped that we could have done that, not because we had been ordered to do that, but because it was the right thing to do.”

Cornwall said that St. Thomas’ Bovoni landfill, which has been in use since 1970, and St. Croix’s Anguilla landfill, in operation since 1966, were not built to take trash over the long term. She said the authority has made strides toward meeting federal regulations, including awarding a contract and obtaining the necessary permits to build a St. Croix waste transfer station and obtaining $3.8 million in local funds to trap methane being emitted at the Bovoni dump.

“It’s kind of a little bit of a shoot-down when you’re working so hard to get something done,” Cornwall said. But, according to the federal government’s lawsuit, the authority has not been working hard enough. The EPA has been working with the local government for 10 years to bring the landfills into compliance with federal standards.

In June 2000, the V.I. government was tasked with correcting issues at the Bovoni landfill that resulted from improper disposal of medical and septic waste, failure to consistently cover the dump with dirt, improper disposal of used oil, the dumping of lead-acid batteries, contaminants seeping into Mangrove Lagoon and subterranean and surface fires at the dump, according to the lawsuit.

At Anguilla, the V.I. government agreed in September 2001 to correct issues that included failure to consistently cover the dump with dirt, inadequate security, inadequate inspection of garbage loads for hazardous waste, and subterranean and surface fires, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says that the Waste Management Authority also agreed to make plans to close both dumps.

In October 2007, the authority submitted a landfill compliance schedule for Anguilla that said the dump would be closed by December 2008, the lawsuit states. In November 2005, the authority submitted a timetable to the EPA that promised that a long-term construction contract for the Bovoni landfill — including execution of the landfill’s closure — would be awarded by June 2008.

As of May 21, the progress with both landfills was deemed unsatisfactory enough that the U.S. Justice Department filed the suit on behalf of the EPA.

The lawsuit seeks the following penalties:

•    A fine of up to $27,500 per day for each violation of the Clean Air Act from April 6, 2001, to March 15, 2004, at the Bovoni landfill

•    A fine of up to $27,500 per day for each violation of the Clean Air Act from April 6, 2001, to March 15, 2004, at the Anguilla landfill.

•    A fine of up to $32,500 per day for each violation of the Clean Air Act from March 15, 2004, to January 12, 2009, at the Bovoni landfill.

•    A fine of up to $32,500 per day for each violation of the Clean Air Act from March 15, 2004, to January 12, 2009, at the Anguilla landfill.

•    A fine of up to $37,500 per day for each violation of the Clean Air Act after January 12, 2009, at the Bovoni landfill.

•    A fine of up to $37,500 per day for each violation of the Clean Air Act after January 12, 2009, at the Anguilla landfill.

Cornwall said that the lawsuit was “regrettable in the sense that it doesn’t send a good message to this community or to the staff that has been working extremely hard,” but added that a court action might help the authority garner the political will to charge waste fees to pay for the management and closure of the territory’s landfills.

The Environmental Protection Agency could not be reached by presstime for comment on the lawsuit.

 

Our Communications with EPA Head Office in Washington

This email thread is based upon the EPA letters in our Current Crises Page

From: Susan Wolterbeek
Sent: Thursday, March 17, 2011 1:58 PM

Dear Vincent:

Thank you so much for your immediate response and concern. Attached are my letters to the EPA, NOAA, and the US Attorney’s Office. Please go to www.greenervi.org  and you will see many other documents, press releases, articles, etc. on these subjects. We desperately need the help of the EPA, NOW!! What follows is my letter of March 2, 2011 to Judith Enck, which has received no response, although it was also sent to several of her people, who asked me if she had responded yet, so I know absolutely that she got it. It was also in our local newspaper, and she has a clipping service. I appreciate your getting someone to respond to me now, because the silence is deafening, and our territory is in crisis.  Thank you, Sincerely, Susan

Non-responsive Messages from EPA Region 2 & EPA Head Office & our reply:

From: Bowen.Vincent, EPA

Sent: Friday, March 18, 2011 11:34 AM

To: Susan Wolterbeek, GreenerVI.org

Subject: Fw: 1.2 million gallons of raw sewage, per day, dumped in our Caribbean coastal water and terrible Air pollution

Follow-up from regional office

—– Forwarded by Vincent Bowen/DC/USEPA/US on 03/18/2011 11:32 AM —–

From: Bonnie Bellow/R2/USEPA/US

To:     Vincent Bowen/DC/USEPA/US@EPA

Cc:     George Pavlou/R2/USEPA/US@EPA, Lisa Plevin/R2/USEPA/US@EPA

Date:  03/18/2011 11:19 AM

Subject:        Re: Fw: 1.2 million gallons of raw sewage, per day, dumped in our Caribbean coastal water and terrible Air pollution

Thank you for reaching out to us.  We are well aware of Susan Wolerbeek’s concerns, and have worked closely with her.  In fact, she is a member of the VI’s Recycling Partnership, a group created during the past year by our Regional Administrator to address serious solid waste concerns throughout the Virgin Islands.  I believe that Ms. Wolterbeek participated in a meeting of the group several weeks ago. We are also well aware of the ongoing sewage discharges.  During the week of March 1, I was in the Virgin Islands with the RA, along with other EPA technical experts, and we visited the site of a pump station that has had many failures. The issue was discussed at meetings with high level VI officials during our visit.

We will look into the status of the March 2 letter to the RA and make every effort to respond quickly. I am out of the office today, but you can reach me next week at 212-637-3660.

Bonnie Bellow

Director, Public Affairs Division

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

(212) 637-3660

Our Replies to the EPA Thread Above

From: Susan Wolterbeek
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2011 6:26 PM
To: Bowen.Vincent

Dear Mr. Bowen:

Thank you for the update. Bonnie’s reply is interesting. Yes, they know of my concerns, but they do not respond to any of my concerns. I do not understand what “working closely” is, because I have had no response to these issues for over a year. They admit they are well aware of these sewage discharges- but the dumping continues. They may have spoken with “high level VI officials”, but neither the EPA or those officials deign to give any information to us citizens who keep asking why these massive violations of federal law are allowed to continue. This is killing our coral, our turtles and our tourism.

In my many letters to the EPA, I have raised what amounts to hundreds of counts of violations of federal criminal and civil law, and Region 2 refuses to even answer my letters. This is not “overwhelming transparency”, or even basic professionalism for a federal agency to refuse to answer citizens’ letters focused on violations of law, begging for relief from the dumping of raw sewage.  Perhaps with the home office’s input from you, now they will finally reply to my letters.

I am asking you to stay on this, please, and bring it to the attention of Lisa Jackson. Clearly, by the facts presented to you, and not disputed by Region 2, THEY ARE NOT RESPONDING TO MY LETTERS, and raw sewage discharges are a regular occurrence here, at a rate of 1.2 million gallons a day, into what were crystal clear Caribbean coastal waters. So far I have had no reply to my letter of March 2, 2011 or even May 17, 2010, besides “we’re looking into it.”  If you go to our website, www.greenervi.org you will see more articles/notices/letters/photographs which I gleaned from the internet. Jim Casey, our local EPA rep, has all the facts and figures as to the discharges.

Sincerely,     Susan Wolterbeek

_____________________________________________________

From: Susan Wolterbeek
Sent: Saturday, March 19, 2011 10:06 AM
To: Bowen.Vincent
Subject: protocol for the EPA

Dear Mr. Bowen:

Re-reading Ms. Bellow’s statement to you from Region 2, I really am stunned by the Director of  Public Affairs’ clear attempt to be disingenuous with the head office of the EPA. How can Region 2’s willfully ignoring my letters and legal analyses, with hundreds of proven violations of criminal and civil law, be construed as “working closely with” me?

This dumping of millions of gallons of raw sewage has been a part of a federal district court consent order since 1985,  yet Region 2 willfully refuses to stop VIWMA’s dumping and WAPA’s polluting, bring a contempt order, or even bother to acknowledge or answer my pleas to help the people of the Virgin Islands. If  Ms. Bellow states she will make every effort to respond quickly to my letter of 2 ½ weeks ago…does that mean waiting another 2 ½ weeks for this “quick” response, or a month, another year?

For the past year, while I have been pressing this issue, the EPA has not properly regulated VIWMA, and under the Endangered Species Act, which I urge you to review, Region 2 of the EPA is itself liable. I have been trying to work with the federal agencies on these matters, and for a federal officer to be disingenuous about Region 2’s relations with an honest, concerned citizen is directly in contravention to EPA’s mandate and ethics. Will the head office of the EPA do anything to help us, inform us, and stop this polluting?

Sincerely,    Susan K. Wolterbeek

 

Hovensa must cut Smog- and Asthma-causing emission by 8,500 tons per year

Nation’s Second Largest Refinery to Pay More Than $5.3 Million Penalty for Clean Air Act Violations / Smog- and asthma-causing emissions to be cut by 8,500 tons per year

Release date: 01/26/2011

Contact Information: Stacy Kika, kika.stacy@epa.gov, 202-564-0906, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced today that Hovensa LLC, owner of the second largest petroleum refinery in the United States, has agreed to pay a civil penalty of more than $5.3 million and spend more than $700 million in new pollution controls that will help protect public health and resolve Clean Air Act violations at its St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands refinery. The settlement requires new and upgraded pollution controls, more stringent emission limits, and aggressive monitoring, leak-detection and repair practices to reduce emissions from refinery equipment and process units.

“This settlement will produce significant benefits for the environment and for the people of the Virgin Islands,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The commitments made by Hovensa to install state-of-the-art pollution controls will mean cleaner air for years to come.”

“This important settlement with the second largest refinery in the United States will result in significant improvements to human health and the environment of the United States Virgin Islands,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “Because of this settlement, Hovensa will install advanced pollution control and monitoring technology, will adopt more stringent emissions limits, and will also create a fund dedicated to local environmental projects. This is another major step in our efforts, alongside EPA, to bring the petroleum refining sector into compliance with our nation’s environmental laws.”

The government’s complaint, filed concurrently with today’s settlement, alleged that the company made modifications to its refinery that increased emissions without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing required pollution control equipment. The Clean Air Act requires major sources of air pollution to obtain such permits before making changes that would result in a significant emissions increase of any pollutant.

Once fully implemented, the pollution controls required by the settlement are estimated to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by more than 5,000 tons per year and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by nearly 3,500 tons per year. The settlement will also result in additional reductions of volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and other pollutants that affect air quality. Additional pollution-reducing projects at the refinery’s coking unit under the settlement will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by over 6,100 tons per year.

High concentrations of SO2 and NOx, two key pollutants emitted from refineries, can have adverse impacts on human health, and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze.

The government of the U.S. Virgin Islands has joined in the settlement and will receive a portion of the civil penalty. In addition, the company will set aside nearly $4.9 million for projects to benefit the environment of the U.S. Virgin Islands. The projects will be identified jointly by the U.S. Virgin Islands government and Hovensa, in consultation with EPA.

The settlement with Hovensa is the 28th under an EPA initiative to improve compliance among petroleum refiners and to reduce significant amounts of air pollution from refineries nationwide through comprehensive, company-wide enforcement settlements. The first of EPA’s settlements was reached in 2000, and with today’s settlement, 105 refineries operating in 32 states and territories – more than 90 percent of the total refining capacity in the United States – are under judicially enforceable agreements to significantly reduce emissions of pollutants. As a result of the settlement agreements, refiners have agreed to invest about $6 billion in new pollution controls designed to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and other pollutants by over 360,000 tons per year.

Hovensa is one of the 10 largest refineries in the world and has the capacity to refine more than 525,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

The consent decree, lodged in the District Court of the Virgin Islands, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

More information on the Hovensa settlement:
www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/hovensa.html

HOVENSA Fined for Violating Clean Air Pollution Regulations

EPA representative briefs V.I. Senate on HOVENSA

By DANIEL SHEA (Daily News Staff)
Published: January 27, 2011

ST. THOMAS – Just before the first break in the day’s proceedings Wednesday at a committee hearing in the V.I. Legislature, Sen. Alicia Hansen asked a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency representative to relay a bombshell piece of news to the senators and others present.

“This morning, a consent decree was lodged in the federal court in which HOVENSA was levied more than $5 million in penalties,” said EPA Caribbean Environmental Protection Division Director Carl-Axel Soderberg. “In addition, it has to pay more than a quarter million dollars to the Virgin Islands.”

The news of the filing of the consent decree, which Soderberg said had been in negotiation for more than five years, had been anticipated for weeks. But the recent string of chemical releases by the refinery pushed the matter to the forefront, causing the EPA and U.S. Justice Department to mandate and finalize the order, Soderberg said.

The news came as a surprise to a number of senators on the V.I. Senate’s Government Operations, Energy and Veterans Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday.

They said they knew that the EPA was working on resolving issues with HOVENSA but did not realize it was on such a large scale:

– The federal government fined HOVENSA $5.125 million for violating the Clean Air Pollution Regulations.

– $250,000 in fines is to be paid to the Virgin Islands.

– HOVENSA was ordered to establish an escrow fund of $4.875 million for supplemental environmental projects in the territory.

– HOVENSA has to invest $700 million in capital projects over the next decade to reduce its emissions.

“It definitely clarifies for us that HOVENSA has been in violation for some time with its emissions,” Sen. Terrence Nelson said.

V.I. senators have been speaking out in recent months after a series of chemical releases at HOVENSA highlighted what had been a long-standing problem, according to the decree.

Sen. Nereida Rivera-O’Reilly had drawn up a bill that would have created a similar escrow account that all territorial polluters would have to contribute to in order to fund a more robust DPNR monitoring program. Rivera-O’Reilly had drafted the bill even before a series of chemical releases began in September.

Shortly after the most serious incident on Dec. 9, when more than 250 students and staff at St. Croix Central High School reported sickness after a release of hydrocarbons from the refinery that morning, a number of other senators began to speak out against HOVENSA.

Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone said he wants to establish an air monitoring network on St. Croix and fund a health study to determine the long-term affect of the refinery’s emissions on the residents downwind. He reiterated his intentions at Wednesday’s hearing.

Sen. Usie Richards also agreed that the territory needs to find funding for studies to track and study the health affects on the community.

He said that the V.I. Health Department needs to be able to test the cisterns of residents, which is another contentious issue because HOVENSA has done the testing and provided its own results to the government.

“It is totally absent and the V.I. Code requires that the Department of Health has those capabilities,” Malone said.

The air-quality monitoring also has been left largely to HOVENSA, except for sporadic testing on the part of the EPA or follow-up testing done in response to a release, Soderberg said.

In addition, HOVENSA must submit quarterly reports on the maintenance of its facility, according to acting DPNR Commissioner Alicia Barnes.

But almost all of that information is gathered by HOVENSA and then submitted to the regulating agencies. And DPNR only has the staffing capability to perform audits on a three-year basis, officials have said.

DPNR will be in charge of monitoring HOVENSA’s progress with the decree, which could create a staffing issue for the department. There are grants, however, that could fund additional positions, Barnes said.

“The problem I have is that HOVENSA monitors itself,” Sen. Ronald Russell said.

A number of senators were under the impression that the EPA should have been monitoring or at least providing money for monitoring.

“It appears to me that the EPA doesn’t regulate with the same stringent measures that it uses in other states,” Nelson said.

Soderberg tried to dispel any such notion.

“The monitoring systems that have been established in the Virgin Islands are, as far as I know, the same as others that have been established in places like New Jersey and New York,” he said. “The EPA finances some of the establishment of these air-monitoring systems, and they are then run by the state agency.”

Currently, DPNR has only stationary monitors that test for particulate matter and lacks the equipment needed to determine the levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, hydrogen sulfide and hydrocarbons that can be released in refinery discharges.

Many senators have called out the EPA for not playing a greater role.

Sen. Louis Hill wrote a letter to the EPA requesting that the federal agency conduct a health study to determine how the refinery has affected residents’ health. Hill said that the territorial agencies do not have the expertise to monitor the massive refinery.

“This is the first time that I’ve known that the federal government has taken action like this with reference to HOVENSA,” Richards said.

Other senators have emphasized the importance of taking on HOVENSA from the territorial level.

“It should be the local government’s priority, not theirs,” Nelson said, referring to the federal government.

“We can’t wait for anyone else to do it for us. It’s time we start to be noticed here,” Nelson said. “HOVENSA contributes close to $900 million to the U.S. Treasury annually, and we are the ones that have to deal with the pollution.”

– Contact Daniel Shea at 774-8772 ext. 457 or e-mail dshea@dailynews.vi.
Read more: http://virginislandsdailynews.com/news/epa-representative-briefs-v-i-senate-on-hovensa-1.1096193#ixzz1Gd2PSdoW

 

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