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Alpine

Letter to NOAA Bureau Chiefs

February 14, 2010

Sarah Heberling, NOAA

Steve Meyers, NOAA

Dave Bernhardt, NOAA

Miles Croom, NOAA

Dear NOAA Chiefs:

The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority is dumping an enormous amount of raw sewage onto Long Reef, St Croix, US Virgin Islands, and has been doing so all last week. Please see the VI Daily News article below.   Sadly, I learned from Paul Chakroff, Executive Director of the St. Croix Environmental Association, that Waste Management has been dumping large quantities of raw sewage every few months for many years, and DPNR has kept on allowing it, every time. Each time they claim it is an emergency, so that they can qualify under a provision in a 1990 consent order between DPNR and VI Public Works, which is attached.

Paragraph 17 of said agreement states “DPNR records document an extensive chronology of unpermitted discharges of untreated sewage into the waters on all three islands.” Now, 20 years later, Waste Management is still dumping raw sewage, every few months.    I have alerted Judith Enck, our new EPA Regional Administrator, of the dumping. Ms. Enck had just visited the Virgin Islands, and met with not only the local government but also with local environmentalists and concerned citizen groups, one of the first meetings of its kind here with federal agents, which we deeply appreciated. Barely two days after Administrator Enck left, Waste Management suddenly had another quarterly emergency and the dumping began again. The EPA is investigating the matter from their end, but it would help to coordinate agency efforts, and to let the USVI citizens know that you care, because they are killing our coral, and this dumping of raw sewage has been going on and on for years.

Since DPNR is under NOAA, and you are all bureau chiefs and coral experts, won’t you please force Waste Management and DPNR to come up with at least an interim plan, immediately, so they will not do any more dumping? Second, can any funds and personnel be released to evaluate and clean up Long Reef, before it is too late? I emailed Dr. Lisamarie Carrubba, our local NOAA contact, but she has not even responded. Again, this has been an ongoing problem, for decades.  Can’t we please get a task force down here, from National Headquarters, before it is too late?

Waste Management still has all residents throwing garbage into huge dumpsters, without any recycling.  They have agreed to the Alpine plan to build petroleum coke/oil/garbage burning plants here, using the heavy metal refuse from Venezuelan oil, hence very high in sulphur, emitting far greater CO2 than at present, right into Stalley Bay, which the local government characterized a few months ago as “pristine”, and filled with endangered species.

A lease has already been signed to build these plants in St. Thomas and St. Croix, with 444 million of  Virgin Island ratepayers’ money, then run these plants for 20 years, with a renewal for another 20 years. They plan to build a 10 million dollar dock in St. Thomas, with 300 foot barges driving in all of the petroleum coke, ammonia, and other products, and barging out 370,000 tons of fly ash per year, without any spills or accidents. There would be huge intake and outflow pipes of “treated water” going out into this “pristine” bay.  It is very windy here in the Virgin Islands. They plan to build silos to contain only 2 days worth of fly ash. What if the barges were to run into heavy weather several days in a row? Please see the attached letter to Senator Malone, urging him to take action and dispense with Alpine.

I am taking a similar approach with Alpine as to that which worked so successfully in Lindbergh Bay, as you all may remember from October, and caused the local government to withdraw their application to dump dredge spoils just a few days after the letter to USACE was published in the VI Daily News.

In addition to all the citizens and environmentalists who have written daily Letters to the Editor for many months now, and testified before the Senate, and the appeal of the Public Service Commission decision, I am consulting with federal agencies, supplying documentary proof, and publishing the legal analysis, but I am a private citizen, unpaid, without resources or clout of a federal agency. If NOAA has a position for this sort of work, I am your woman, but otherwise it would be of enormous help if the federal agencies would take a more proactive role here, beginning with stopping the dumping of raw sewage onto our reefs.

After all, your agency is spending millions to fund coral and coastal zone programs.  Those monies and efforts are wasted if raw sewage is being dumped on the reefs, and petroleum coke/oil/garbage plants belch out heavy metals, dioxins and high levels of CO2 for the next 40 years.  May we please form a coalition, now, of federal agencies, local agencies, environmentalists and citizens to address our waste and energy issues?  Thank you for your consideration in regard to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely yours,

Susan K. Wolterbeek

 

Miyoko Sakashita, Esq., Center for Biological Diversity

Dr. Caroline Rogers

Dr. Jeff Miller

Judith Enck, EPA Administrator, Region II

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