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air pollution

WAPA Polluting our Air, Water and Coral

This an example of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) polluting our Air, Water and Coral. This is a violation of the US Clean Water Act, the US Clean Air Act and the US Endangered Species Act. Unfortunately, this is just one of many violations that happen relatively frequently.

Wapa1

Thick, Dark Smoke from WAPA; Polluting our Air, Water and Coral

 

 

Wapa2

More WAPA pollution of our Air, Water and Coral

 

 

 

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

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.

 

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

 

WAPA Spewing Heavy Pollution into Our Air

 

 

 

This is an example photo of the heavy, sticky soot being spewed into our environment by WAPA in St Thomas on December 5th, 2010.

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