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EPA Complicit – Grossly Understating Raw Sewage Dumping

This is what we got in response from the EPA:

From: []
Sent: Saturday, April 30, 2011 8:36 PM
To: Susan Wolterbeek
Subject: Re: EPA has allowed at VIWMA to continue dumping millions of gallons of raw sewage into our territorial waters, despite court order and federal laws designed to protect us

Thanks. We will get back to you in about 2 weeks
Sent by EPA Wireless E-Mail Services

The following is an emailed letter sent to the EPA, NOAA,  The Center For Biological Diversity and the VI Daily News

Susan K. Wolterbeek
P.O. Box 306658
St. Thomas, VI 00803-6658

April 29, 2011

Judith Enck
Regional Administrator
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
New York, New York 10007-1866

Administrator Enck:
We Virgin Islanders have a legal right to not have our Caribbean coastal waters filled with raw sewage. Don’t you agree? Although I met with you last May about this, and have written to you several times imploring the EPA to stop allowing millions of gallons of raw sewage to be dumped into our coastal waters, your agency still has not regulated VIWMA.

In the past year since the Court Order of 3/18/10, VIWMA has dumped raw sewage for at least 87 days according to the records which came from your office, and newspaper articles. Last year the rate testified to and reported in the VI Daily News was that raw sewage was pumped out at 1.2 million gallons per day.

If the rate is the same, that means since the 3/18/10 Court Order, 104 million gallons of raw sewage were dumped where people swim and fish, dive and snorkel, where Hawksbill and Green Sea Turtles eat, and where Staghorn and Elkhorn Coral live. We humans and these Endangered Species are protected by federal laws which your agency is sworn to uphold.

Nevertheless, within weeks VIWMA had violated the Court Orders, as I kept telling you, yet the dumpings continued, and your agency would not and will not file for Contempt, Receivership, Sanctions, or even alert NOAA that your agency’s actions, each of those bypasses, have occurred, each of which are separate violations of the Endangered Species Act.

I formally requested of your office, through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), the start and stop dates and rate of flow of every bypass of raw sewage in the Territory since 1/1/10. Your office supplied me with many Non-Compliance Reports, but there are significant gaps. The 50 million gallons of raw sewage pumped over Long Reef January-March last year is not reflected in the Non-Compliance Reports for that time period, except for 2 reports, of LBJ and Barren Spot Pump Stations, which simply say “ONGOING BYPASS”.

There have been 150 Non-Compliance Reports, since the 3/18/10 Court Order, and a few of those said “ONGOING BYPASS”, too, which itself is not compliant with federal law or the TPDES Permit, and without start and stop dates, the bypasses may have continued for days, weeks, months, or they are still ongoing, so the actual days of bypass since the 3/18/10 Court Order may be significantly higher than 87. Further, there was a newspaper article about a 10 day bypass of raw sewage over Long Reef April 24-May 4, 2010, right when the Ironman Tri-athletes were swimming in the affected waters, yet there are no Non-Compliance Reports furnished for those dates. How many other major bypasses did not get written into Non-Compliance Reports?

Because the Non-Compliance Reports are woefully incomplete, I have repeatedly renewed my FOIA Request for the start and stop dates and rate of flow from your office so that I may give the Federal District Court accurate figures, yet your FIOA Officer will not release this information, without explanation, in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 552 (6)(A)(i).

In the EPA’s Final Submission, filed with the Federal District Court on 4/11/11, instead of informing the Court about this horrific 87 days bypassing of 104 million gallons of raw sewage which your agency has allowed to continue, your attorneys alluded to some small bypasses and specifically mentioned a Barren Spot 3 day bypass to the judge, [which was in truth March 13-23, 2011, 10 days, by your own records]. The EPA further failed to tell the Court about VIWMA’s continued Contempt of Court Orders by refusing to warn the public with required Public Notices and posting signs on affected beaches. What thought or care is being given to those most at risk-the elderly, pregnant women, people with immune deficiencies, and what of the turtles and coral which live in those waters?

Since the EPA will not give the Court this vital information of VIWMA’s continued willful violation of federal laws and contempt of Court Orders, it falls to us citizens to do the work. We need this continued dumping of raw sewage to stop now, and forever. I am preparing a Citizen’s Suit through a Motion to Intervene, and am asking that your agency now provide to the Public, and the Court, the full, unredacted details of all raw sewage bypasses since 1/1/10, including start dates, stop dates and rates of flow. Further, please tell me whom, if anyone, the EPA has contacted at NOAA, the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior concerning these bypasses, as each of these agencies is affected and should have been notified.

I look forward to hearing from you in regard to these issues, as soon as possible.


Susan K. Wolterbeek

cc: Lisa Jackson, Administrator, EPA
Thomas Bigford, NOAA
Miyoko Sakashita, Oceans Director, Center For Biological Diversity
Lowe Davis, VI Daily News

Governor ignores the law on filling board vacancies

By Susan K. Wolterbeek
Published: July 13, 2010

This is an open letter to V.I. Attorney General Vincent Frazer with a copy to Solicitor General Elliot M. Davis:

The Governor keeps blatantly breaking the law: According to the V.I. Code, the Governor must advertise for boards and commissions, and accept nominations from the public and organized groups. He refuses.

U.S. Air Force Maj. David L. Maxwell (Ret.) wrote Gov. John deJongh Jr. a letter discussing these laws, which was published in The Daily News on Oct. 15, 2009, and attached hereto. Maj. Maxwell never received a reply from the governor.

Instead, Gov. deJongh continued with his practice of shutting out all the rest of us who live in the US Virgin Islands. We have a right to nominate good people for the boards and commissions, and our rights are continually being violated by our governor who just appoints whomever he wants.

The statutes are clear and unequivocal, as I pointed them out to Sen. Michael Thurland, chairman of the Rules and Judiciary Committee in my letter dated May 12, 2010, and published the next day in The Daily News. I never received a reply to my letter either.

Would you please enforce these laws? All illegal appointments to boards and commissions should be void, and those positions advertised, following the V.I. Code. The language in these statutes is mandatory, and specific, as to the procedure for filling vacancies.

It is the governor’s duty and obligation under V.I. Code, Title 3, Chapter 5, Subchapter 1, Section  § 65a. to fill the vacancies on boards within 60 days of the date the vacancy occurred.

The Board of Land Use Appeals had not had a quorum since 2007. Last year two groups filed appeals to that Board against the planned illegal dumping in Lindbergh Bay. Their appeals were never heard, a clear violation of due process.

It took considerable environmental advocacy with federal agencies and publishing documented violations of federal criminal laws to finally get the permit application withdrawn. All of that effort would have been avoided had the Governor complied with the law.

Despite Major Maxwell’s letter and mine, the governor again refused to advertise, and he nominated only his choices to the Land Use Appeals Board this spring.

We Virgin Islanders have Constitutional Rights, which include being fairly and justly governed according to our laws.

Pursuant to V.I. Code, Title 3, Chapter 5, Subchapter 1, Section  § 65b:

“Prior to the submission of a nomination to the Legislature to fill a vacancy on a board or commission, which nomination requires the advice and consent of the Legislature; the Governor shall cause to be printed in a newspaper of general circulation in each island district, a public notice that a vacancy exists. Such notice shall state the name of the board or agency on which the vacancy occurs, the fact that the Governor will be submitting a nomination to the Legislature, any qualifications required by law of prospective nominees, and an invitation to the public and organized groups to recommend persons to the Governor for nomination to fill the vacancy. The public notice shall be published not less than twice a week for two consecutive weeks.”

The Daily News confirms these public notices have never been issued for seats on boards and commissions.

Would you please compel the governor to follow these laws now and advertise for all board and commission seats that were filled illegally?

It is no wonder that many people feel they are powerless, when even our own governor refuses to obey the law and honor our rights.

Please show us that you care about enforcing the rights of the people. Thank you.

— Susan K. Wolterbeek is an attorney who lives on St. Thomas.

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