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EPA Mandate to Protect Coral

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February 10, 2013

Mark Lichtenstein

Dear Mark:

I am hopeful that now that the EPA actually has a mandate to protect Coral, that the EPA will finally put VIWMA in Receivership, so that the dumping of raw, untreated sewage and chemicals will finally stop.  Since Judith met with me on May 6, 2010, an estimated 300 million more gallons of raw sewage were pumped into our coastal waters, where we swim and snorkel, and where several endangered species live.  Many people have been getting staph infections, flesh eating bacteria, people have died. We need your help.  This is all in violation of federal criminal laws that have not been enforced for 29 years. These criminals are ruining our coral, turtles, and making people very sick.

We need a plan of moving forward, and critical to that plan is the foundation of having people who know what they are doing running, managing and maintaining our utilities, to stop polluting our air and water, NOW. We need to start full bore recycling, closing our dumps which are leaching into our waters, and stopping those people from VIWMA from hurting us any more. These waters are toxic now.

Dave and I have asked the EPA for copies of all documents referring to illegal dumping by VIWMA from 1/1/11-Present. From past years, some “bypasses” of raw, untreated sewage were written up in non-compliance reports, but many were not. Sometimes there are casual emails from VIWMA to DPNR and/or the EPA.  On many non-compliance reports, which DPNR and the EPA review, but do not kick back, VIWMA does not list the quantities, or even amount of days, or weeks, of “Bypass” leaving them blank.

On 11/7/12, over three months ago, Major David Maxwell sent The FOIA Officer his request for these non-compliance reports, as you can see in the email below.  On 1/17/13, I asked John Martin for the data again,  in my email to him. Nonetheless, no one has responded, or sent us anything, after 3 months-far beyond FOIA deadlines. I know your focus is recycling, but this all involves the same VIWMA and DPNR people.

WAPA, our power company, is also polluting our air and coastal waters, as you can see by the enclosed photos, and WAPA is crippling the people and businesses of the USVI, charging us 600-800% of the average US rate, while working at as low as 13% efficiency, according to a federal audit. Many VI Businesses are struggling endlessly to hang on, or are going into bankruptcy. We have written to the Inspector General’s Office of the Dept. of Energy, who said they would investigate…yet this month we have just gotten another unjustified rate increase.

Now just about every beach in the USVI is on the EPA’s impaired beaches list, and that list has not been updated since 2010. The sunshine laws are treated by DPNR as a joke, and Jamal Neilson said DPNR does not post danger signs on impaired beached because the hotels do not like it. We citizens are not cannot get hold of the water quality results, and apparently they are not testing comprehensively.

Trip Advisor talks of the smell of raw sewage in areas of St. Croix, so this pollution is obviously negatively impacting Tourism, which our economy is based upon, as well as killing the remaining 3% of coral and polluting the nutritional food vital to hawksbill and green turtles, who are also supposed to be protected by your Endangered Species laws.

I understand that your basic focus is recycling- but it is not fair to us, the citizens, to swim in filth while you guys keep trying to work with VIWMA, who with its predecessors have dumped into our coastal waters for 29 years, and kept the unlined landfills open. Haven’t they been given enough chances, for 29 years, to get it right? Mark, please consider Receivership now.

                                                                           Sincerely,

Susan

 

Susan Wolterbeek, President        GreenerVI.org

St Thomas, VI 00803          (340) 714-2233        susan@GreenerVI.org

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