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The EPA is, finally, taking Protection of Coral Seriously

This past week the EPA was here, on island, in-force to collect issues and concerns from residents/citizens on how bad the Coral is? and what, we thought, was causing it?

 

Oddly enough, most people who stood up and spoke thought the Coral was, primarily, being damaged by run-off from the land.  This just goes to show how effectively our Waste Management Authority has hidden the extent of their criminal dumping of many hundreds of millions or perhaps, billions of gallons of raw, untreated sewage into our coastal water over the past 40 years. The EPA has had VIWMA in Federal Court over continuing dumping of raw, untreated sewage into our Coastal Waters since 1984; that’s 29 years.  This dumping of raw sewage is a felony under the Clean Water Act.  Guess what?  No one in Waster Management has been cited for contempt; no one has gone to jail and no one has been fired.  The EPA has allowed Waste Management to pollute, and continue to pollute without consequences for nearly 30 years.  This is disgusting and must stop.

 

Raw Sewage is the primary cause of Coral disease; the Coral (and Turtle Grass) can’t move out of the way like fish and turtles.  This raw sewage is full of nitrates which are one of the most deadly chemicals in the marine eco-system.  According the EPA’s own website, Nitrates are being tested in St Croix, but not in St Thomas or St John.  Why not?  The sewage is also full of bacteria and more-and-more people are getting staph infections from going swimming; these include anti-biotic resistant strains called MRSA and Flesh-Eating Bacteria.

 

If you have, or have had, one of these infections, send us an email (dave@greenervi.org).  We will keep your name confidential, but want to report to the EPA on the scope of the problem in the US Virgin Islands.  This is important; tell your friends.

 

The EPA put recycling and composting on its agenda three years ago.  In that time, the EPA has had many successes in Puerto Rico, but none here in the Virgin Islands.  Why?  Incompetent leadership in VIWMA!  Ms. Cornwall had been the Director of Waste Management for 26 years; remember Waste Management has been continuously in-court for the past 29 years for dumping raw sewage.  Ms. Cornwall should be fired without pension and should be wearing an Orange Jumpsuit.  What’s it going to take? A medical emergency?

 

Speaking of a medical emergency?  Does Waste Management test the water quality before and after dumping raw sewage?  If not, why not?  Perhaps, its DPNR.  Where can we, the people, go to get the results of that water quality testing?  Why are the testing results not available on a website?  Can it be that DPNR and Waste Management and WAPA do not want us to know the water quality testing results?  EPA, what about you?  Do your job and get our coastal water quality and air tested, and, insist on transparently releasing the results where people can get to them.

 

Ok.  The EPA has, finally, seen the light and, now, wants to do everything possible to save the remaining coral that we have.  They have sent people down here to find out how really bad it is.  They are seeing, first-hand, how corrupt CZM, DPNR, VIWMA, and WAPA are.  They are also getting an idea how ineffectual their own EPA people are here in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  This also applies to the NOAA people as well.  These people have allowed the dumping of raw sewage to continue for three decades; what was the penalty?  Fines, just fines, but no change in behavior.  All the while, the EPA could have asked the Federal Judge to hold Waste Management in contempt or they could have put Waste Management Leaders in jail.  Why didn’t they do something after 5 years, or 10, or even 20?  What is wrong with our government? It is supposed to protect us, not make us sick.

 

This have gotten so bad that the EPA is going to lead a Federal Inter-Agency Task Force to clean-up our waters and address the many pollution issues we have.  This is wonderful news; the Federal Bureaucracy has noticed us and has decided we need a clean-up.  Fine.  I call for the Privatization of VIWMA and WAPA.  Both of these organizations refuse to tell us, the people, what their salaries are, their pensions and other benefits.  Both of them pollute our air, water and coral.  Both of them are unaccountable.  They must both be put into receivership or made private or both.  A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) needs to be appointed to review/cancel their contracts and other arrangements.

 

For those who are concerned about our Coral Reefs, the EPA is distributing a new document, published in April 2012, called, “Field Manual for Coral Reef Assessments”.   It is in PDF format and here is the link on our website.  Alternatively, here is a link to the EPA website.

 

Dave Maxwell, GreenerVI

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