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Citizen’s Lawsuit – 2011

In 2 months last year, Jan-Mar 2010, VIWMA dumped 50 million gallons of raw sewage into VI Coastal Waters, where people swim and snorkel, and where federally protected sea turtles and coral live. The Federal District Court issued an Emergency Order on 3-18-10, saying that VIWMA was to immediately replace and maintain pumps necessary to specific pump stations, so that the VI pump stations would stop dumping raw sewage. However, if the pump system failed again, VIWMA was to give extensive Public Notice preceding, during, and after cessation of any dumping of raw sewage.

VIWMA ignored the Federal Court Order. VIWMA did not purchase the required pumps, even though the EPA and Department of the Interior gave VIWMA the money to buy them. Since the 3-18-10 Court Order, VIWMA has continued to dump raw sewage for more than 128 days, and there is currently an ongoing raw sewage bypass in St. Croix. VIWMA has not been giving the required Public Notice according to the Court Order and VIWMA’s Permit, so that Citizens have no idea how often and where raw sewage is being dumped.

Neither DPNR or the EPA has adequately supervised or regulated VIWMA, forced VIWMA to follow the Court Order, or filed for Contempt when VIWMA refused.  I wrote to EPA Officials, met with the head of the EPA for NY, NJ Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, Regional Administrator Enck, and sent her a legal analysis on May 16, 2010, [Exhibit 6], showing how the local and federal agencies were all violating the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. The EPA did nothing. The EPA did not enforce the Court Order or file for Contempt, even though I gave the EPA undisputed proof that VIWMA was violating every provision of the 3-18-10 Court Order.

Contact with raw sewage can cause many serious illnesses in people including Typhus, Cholera, SARS, Hepatitis, and enlarged heart. Raw sewage contaminates turtles’ food, and kills coral.  Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles, Staghorn and Elkhorn Coral are all protected by the Endangered Species Act. VIWMA, DPNR and the EPA are all mandated to notify the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) if their activities may injure animals protected by the Endangered Species Act. None of these agencies have alerted NMFS or begun a formal consultation, and are all currently violating federal civil and criminal statutes.

Susan Wolterbeek, President of GreenerVI.org,  has brought a Motion to Intervene/Citizen’s Suit in Federal District Court. Please see our filings and Exhibits below. We are awaiting Judge Gomez’s ruling on making us a Party to the suit.

Here are PDF links to the most recent US District Court actions in 2011   3-31-2011 Court Order  and 3-31-2011 Memorandum Opinion. VIWMA continues to dump raw sewage into our coastal waters.

As background, the below is the December 1998 Consent Order on Waste Water Discharges.

Consent Order re wastewater discharges

And the Court Order three years later.  Both of which were promptly ignored by Waste Water Management.

9-27-2001 Court Order

 

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