Lawmakers Consider Bill To Have A Recycling Program in the Territory

ST. THOMAS- The Committee on Housing, Public Works and Waste Management, chaired by Sen. Marvin Blyden, held a meeting on Tuesday at the Capitol Building at the request of the governor, to receive testimony on Bill No. 31-0316 to establish a comprehensive waste reduction, recycling, and composting program in the Virgin Islands.   “For years, we have been trying to bring recycling programs up-to-date in the Territory,” said Sen. Blyden, “Today’s meeting is a start for this new endeavor.”… Read more here.

Hearings on Solid Waste Reform

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 | 9:00am
V.I. Legislature

Solid waste reforms to come before Legislature June 14th. Bills will mandate recycling, limit plastic bags, help reduce trash stream.

The 31st Legislature will host hearings on vital solid waste reforms beginning at 9 a.m. on June 14, 2016 in the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Chambers on St. Thomas. The public is encouraged to attend and participate.

Governor Kenneth E. Mapp is urging the community to demonstrate their support for this long overdue and critical legislation to better manage solid waste in the Virgin Islands. The three bills will be heard in the 31st Legislature’s Committee on Housing, Public Works & Waste Management. The Governor’s proposals, sent down to the Legislature in early February, will limit the use of plastic bags, mandate recycling and help reduce both litter and the territory’s overall waste stream.

It’s crucial that the public understand and support these important measures as we must change the way we all handle trash and refuse, Governor Mapp said.

“Much of what is being proposed has already been implemented on a national level and has proven to be quite successful,” he said. “It is a matter of raising awareness.”

Department of Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Dawn Henry assisted in drafting the legislation, which also has the strong support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“This is a very comprehensive approach and our goals are aggressive,” Commissioner Henry said following the 31st Legislature’s receipt of the bills. “Taken together these measures will help us reduce our waste stream with the ultimate goal of keeping our landfills open. People have been calling for recycling and waste reduction measures for quite some time. We have delivered a solid plan to move forward in this regard.”

Commissioner Henry said the legislation has been broken down into three separate components and each includes measures for public education:

The Plastic Bag Regulation bill requires businesses and organizations to utilize reusable bags or compostable plastic bags with the goal of eliminating plastic bags at point of sale check outs. It is estimated that as much as 10 percent of all litter consists of these bags with even more ending up in our waters, where plastic bags can choke sea life and the chemicals in the plastics can break down and enter our food chain. Plastic bags will still be allowed where no acceptable substitute exists such as wrapping prepared foods or meats.

The Comprehensive Waste Reduction Program maximizes recycling and composting territory-wide and includes a redemption value on every beverage container sold in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The measure will help reduce litter and a tracking system will be developed in order to ensure that any product entering the territory will meet labeling and redemption requirements.

The Source Separation bill represents a comprehensive overhaul of Virgin Islands solid waste management and disposal practices. This proposal requires everyone who generates waste in this territory to be responsible for separating recyclables from their trash with the goal of reducing the waste stream. It also mandates that the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority develop a plan for the collection and delivery of these recyclables.

Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources Secretary Tapped to Head EPA’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division

(New York, N.Y. – May 19, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Carmen Guerrero Pérez has been selected to lead the EPA’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division, covering Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The division serves as the primary liaison on environmental issues and problems with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and Territory of the Virgin Islands governments, as well as with the press, community groups, and regulated industries and authorities. The Caribbean Environmental Protection Division is comprised of about 60 people who conduct inspections, identify violations and develop enforcement actions, and implement clean water, drinking water, air, Superfund, hazardous waste, toxics and other EPA programs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Ms. Guerrero will join EPA on July 11, 2016.

“I am so pleased to select Carmen Guerrero Pérez for this extremely important post. Her dedication to the people of Puerto Rico and the environment is unmatched and she will be an amazing asset to EPA’s senior leadership team,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator.  “Carmen is a consummate professional and her skills and environmental ethic will help lead our already strong team of dedicated staff and managers in our Caribbean Environmental Protection Division to do great things for the people of Puerto Rico.”

Carmen Guerrero Pérez has served as Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources since 2013.  In this capacity, she led the expansion of the island’s natural protected areas network and the implementation of a number of Executive Orders regarding climate change resiliency and adaptation at an island and municipal scale level. Carmen has also spearheaded initiatives to protect Puerto Rico’s coastlines and diverse ecosystems.

Carmen has had a long and fruitful career in environmental conservation and community engagement in the management of protected areas and ecosystems.  Carmen started her career at the Office of Policy and Planning of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C.  She returned to Puerto Rico to join the San Juan Bay Estuary Program as a Project Coordinator.  For more than 15 years, she served as environmental and conservation planner and consultant to numerous organizations and government entities, among them: Puerto Rico Conservation Trust, El Yunque National Forest, Corporación ENLACE del Caño Martín Peña, University of Puerto Rico, Banco Popular Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy. Carmen also founded an environmental non-government organization that provides volunteer advisory services on environmental and sustainable development issues to local communities across Puerto Rico.

Carmen has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Public Policy from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She has a Masters’ Degree in Environmental Planning from the Graduate School of Planning at the University of Puerto Rico and a Masters’ Degree in Environmental Management from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies at Yale University in Connecticut. She also participated in sustainable development study programs at Costa Rica and at the University of California in Berkeley.  She is a licensed professional planner in Puerto Rico.

EPA Honors U.S. Virgin Islands Environmental Champions

(New York, N.Y. – May 13, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today honored two organizations from the U.S. Virgin Islands with Environmental Champion Awards for their achievements in protecting public health and the environment. EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck was joined by Murray Fisher, founder of the New York Harbor School, to present the awards to this year’s recipients at a ceremony at the EPA’s offices in Manhattan. The awards are presented annually.

“It is a privilege for EPA to be able to recognize the dedication and accomplishments of these environmental trailblazers,” said Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “These individuals and organizations from the U.S. Virgin Islands are an inspiration, encouraging us to do our best to protect the environment every day.”

The Environmental Champion Award winners from the U.S. Virgin Islands are:

Clean Sweep Frederiksted

Clean Sweep Frederiksted is a grassroots initiative with the mission to support the economic development and revitalization of the Frederiksted Historic District through targeted litter cleanups. The organization has developed a program called Adopt‐a‐Spot, where individuals, schools,businesses, civic groups, or churches commit to keeping specific area clear of litter. They also transformed Cruzan rum barrels into trash receptacles that are painted by local volunteers. To date, volunteers have donated over 4,000 hours of service valued at over $95,000.
Gifft Hill School
The Gifft Hill School teaches environmental stewardship to students from preschool to 12th grade through gardening and nutrition education. The school instills in its students an understanding of their relationship with the environment. The school also established an Energy Initiative that will save the school $1 million over 20 years through energy efficiency improvements, a solar photovoltaic system, and a Community Campus Arboretum of 60 native and regionally significant trees.

For more details, visit:www.epa.gov/aboutepa/environmental-champion-awards.

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EPA Provides the US Virgin Islands $8 Million for Water Infrastructure Projects

(New York, N.Y. – May 2, 2016)  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has allotted $8,249,000 to the United States Virgin Islands to help finance improvements to water projects that are essential to protecting public health and the environment. The funds will primarily be used to upgrade wastewater systems and drinking water systems throughout the territory.

“Clean drinking water and proper wastewater treatment are fundamental to protecting people’s health, but aging water infrastructure needs to be upgraded and repaired,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “This funding will help the U.S. Virgin Islands upgrade their drinking water and sewage treatment systems, both of which are imperative for healthy communities.”

The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, administered by the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works, was allotted $4,129,000. The program provides grants for water quality protection projects to make improvements to wastewater treatment systems, control pollution from rain water runoff, and protect sensitive water bodies and estuaries.

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program, administered by the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, was allotted $4,120,000. The program provides grants to finance improvements to drinking water systems, with a particular focus on providing funds to small and disadvantaged communities.

Since 1989, the EPA has awarded $78,424,380 million to the U.S. Virgin Islands through these programs, which are funded annually.

For more information on the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program, visit https://epa.gov/cwsrf

For information on the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program visithttps://epa.gov/drinkingwatersrf

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Total Petroleum Puerto Rico Corp. Agrees to Spend $1.6 Million to Improve Leak Detection in At Least 125 Gas Stations Across Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

Contact: Mary Mears, (212) 637-3673, mears.mary@epa.gov; Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664,rodriguez.elias@epa.gov; Brenda Reyes, (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov; Dept. of Justice 202-514-2007

(New York, N.Y. – March 9, 2015) A settlement announced today between the United States and Total Petroleum Puerto Rico Corp. (Total Puerto Rico) resolves Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) violations alleged at 31 gas stations in Puerto Rico and four gas stations in the U.S. Virgin Islands that contain underground storage tanks (USTs) owned by Total Puerto Rico. These USTs typically hold large quantities of gasoline and can cause significant environmental damage if allowed to leak. Total Puerto Rico has agreed to pay a $426,000 civil penalty, implement compliance measures valued at approximately $1 million and undertake a supplemental environmental project (SEP) consisting of a centralized monitoring system estimated to cost approximately $600,000.

In the complaint filed simultaneously with the lodging of the consent decree, the United States alleged that Total Puerto Rico, as an owner of the USTs at the gas stations, violated RCRA and the Puerto Rico Underground Storage Tank Control Regulations (PRUSTR) by failing to report and investigate suspected leaks, monitor for leaks; provide adequate protection against corrosion and overflows, adequately secure dispensers and lines against tampering when facilities were temporarily closed, adequately secure monitoring wells against tampering and maintain records of release detection monitoring.

This settlement incorporates provisions consistent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Next Generation enforcement efforts, which focus on increasing compliance with environmental regulations by combining the use of advanced technologies, such as pollution detection systems and information technologies, with traditional compliance measures. The centralized monitoring component of today’s agreement is a Next Generation technology that will enable Total Puerto Rico to rapidly identify and respond to actual or potential gas leaks at its gas stations with actively operating USTs, each of which will be equipped with on-site electronic release detection monitoring equipment that will be enhanced with the Next Generation capability to transmit monitoring data to one central location on a 24/7/365 basis.

“This settlement will require Total Puerto Rico to address the risk of gas leaks comprehensively by installing advanced electronic release detection monitoring equipment in all gas stations at which Total owns actively operating USTs,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The settlement also obligates Total Puerto Rico to install state-of-the art centralized monitoring technology, a Next Generation tool that will enable the company to provide around-the-clock surveillance from a single location for over one hundred gas stations.”

“Leaking underground petroleum tanks are a serious problem because they can contaminate groundwater with pollutants such as benzene, which is known to cause cancer,” said Regional Administrator Judith Enck for EPA. “This agreement includes an innovative centralized monitoring system, which will protect the environment by helping to ensure that the underground tanks at many gas stations across Puerto Rico and in the U.S. Virgin Islands will now be properly monitored and maintained.”

Total Puerto Rico will install, or upgrade to, a fully automated electronic release detection monitoring system at 137 facilities with Total-owned USTs in active operation and will operate the systems for at least three years. This compliance measure, valued at approximately $1 million, will connect lines with probing sensors within the USTs to an on-site computer console unit that has audible and visible alarms capable of alerting nearby gas station personnel of gas leaks and other potentially dangerous events. The obligation to install automated release detection monitoring systems will extend to any additional facilities with actively operating USTs acquired by Total Puerto Rico after the date of lodging of the consent decree. In addition, Total Puerto Rico’s voluntary undertaking of a SEP – the implementation, operation and maintenance of a centralized monitoring capability estimated to cost approximately $600,000 – will connect at least 125 of the facilities with electronic release detection monitoring systems to a central location. Total Puerto Rico will also provide quarterly reports to EPA regarding its operation of these systems, and will be required to provide information regarding their operation upon EPA’s request.

This is the second judicial settlement in Puerto Rico requiring a defendant to implement company-wide automated electronic release detection with a centralized monitoring capability. A settlement in 2011 with Chevron Puerto Rico covered over 140 gas stations for a period of five years. With today’s proposed settlement with Total Puerto Rico, more than 250 gas stations throughout Puerto Rico will have electronic release detection equipment and centralized monitoring.

The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and is conditioned upon approval by the United States District Court before becoming final.

For more information on underground storage tanks, visit http://www.epa.gov/oust.

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Management of Used Oil the US Virgin Islands

Programs and Regulations

• Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority Do-It-Yourself Used Oil Collection

The VI Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) by mandate of the US. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), established a program that promotes alternatives to the illegal disposal of used motor oil by undertaking outreach efforts to educate and motivate the public to recycle used oil. The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Program provides sites for the collection of used oil from private individuals, or “DIYers”. The DIY sites will only accept clean used motor oil in clean containers that is free of dirt, leaves, or other contaminants. The management of used oil.is based on EPA standards and regulations.

The VI Waste Management Authority website, states where business owners and residents can take their used oil for adequate disposal or recycling. VIWMA also has a website with educational material about the correct disposal of used cooking oil. There is no information available regarding penalties or fines for the improper management of used oil.

• Act to authorize the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources to establish a Used Cooking Oil Collection Certification Program. Bill No. 30-0141, June 5, 2013.

“The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner, Wayne Biggs, representatives of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) and the VI Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) along with a local business owner who collects cooking oil testified that the Bill include an appropriation and a distinction between cooking/vegetable oil and motor oil”.

Bill No. 30-0141

Section 1. The Department of Department of Planning and Natural Resources is authorized to establish a Used Cooking Oil Collection Certification Program to train and certify individuals in becoming certified used oil collectors from businesses and homes for recycling and reuse.

Section 2. The Commissioner shall promulgate rules and regulations governing the certification program.

There is no information available online about the status of DPNR in the development of the Used Cooking Oil Certification Program.

Recollection companies:

• Regulated Waste Management Inc., Christiansted, St. Croix – This company works closely with the local division of the EPA, “DPNR” to assist commercial generators in their compliance with the Used Oil Standards.

• Tibbar Energy USVI, Christiansted, St. Croix – Tibbar Energy USVI is working to develop a biomass facility, which will produce biogas through the process of anaerobic digestion. The feedstock, called Giant King Grass, will be grown on a 1000 plus acres on St. Croix.

The biogas from the process will then be used to generate 7MW of renewable electricity.

Under New City Rule, It’s the Packaging, Not the Food, That’s to Go

01/07/2015
The New York Times

The proposed mayoral ban — swift, decisive, stirring in the moment — does not always take.

New Yorkers can still get cozy with an outsize soda, the carbonated nemesis that former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg failed to fell.

Horse carriages, which Mayor Bill de Blasio once pledged to expel on ”Day 1” of his administration, continue to rumble through Central Park.

But now, it seems, City Hall’s two most recent occupants have successfully combined to vanquish a common foe: plastic foam.

Nearly two years after Mr. Bloomberg first proposed banishing the material in his final State of the City address, de Blasio administration officials are expected to announce on Thursday that they have completed the deed.

Beginning on July 1, food establishments will be barred from using plastic foam cups or containers, compelling purveyors of curbside cart fare and Chinese takeout, among others, to find alternatives. The sale of packing peanuts within the city limits will also be prohibited, though peanut-laden parcels can still be shipped to New Yorkers from elsewhere.

”This has been a movement that’s gone on for a very long time,” Kathryn Garcia, the city’s sanitation commissioner, said of the shift away from foam. ”Clearly, there are alternatives out there that are much more environmentally friendly.”

Environmental groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council have long lamented the polymer’s persistence, arguing that foam containers, stained by food and grease, were needlessly clogging landfills. But efforts to rid the city of the material had met fierce opposition from Dart Container Corporation, one of the largest makers of plastic foam products, and the American Chemistry Council, a trade group that aggressively lobbied city officials and council members.

In December 2013, just before Mr. Bloomberg left office, the City Council passed a compromise measure that gave foam defenders a year to prove to the sanitation commissioner that ”dirty foam” could be collected, recycled and sold in an economically viable way.

City officials said on Wednesday that the foam, known as expanded polystyrene, was not recyclable and that they had not found any established markets where it could be sold. Messages left on Wednesday for Dart, which argued before the City Council in 2013 that foam could be recycled, were not returned. A spokesman for the American Chemistry Council said it would be ”inappropriate to comment” before the city made an official announcement.

Former Bloomberg administration officials cheered the foam’s imminent demise.

”We created and undertook the most ambitious sustainability plan in the nation,” Caswell F. Holloway, the former deputy mayor for operations, said in a statement. ”This latest step is another reason why New York has become a model for cities around the world.”

While Mr. Bloomberg’s plan to ban large sugary drinks was defeated in court, he did alter several aspects of city life — from the consumption of trans fats to smoking in parks to car traffic on parts of Broadway — that he found unhealthy or otherwise unpalatable.

Mr. de Blasio’s office said he had long shared his predecessor’s desire to ban foam, noting that he had called for its removal as a City Council member, as public advocate and as a candidate for mayor.

Similar measures have been enacted in other cities, including San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. New York’s ban seems primed to make a significant dent: The city collected roughly 28,000 tons of expanded polystyrene in the year ending in June 2014, the administration said.

The city does not plan to enforce the ban until January 2016, officials said, delaying fines and allowing a grace period for vendors to learn the new rules.

Nonprofits and businesses with less than $500,000 in annual revenue can apply for exemptions, which they will receive if they prove that buying other materials in place of foam would create ”undue financial hardship.”

Nilda Mesa, director of the mayor’s Office of Sustainability, suggested that New York’s status as a ”city of islands” made the ban particularly important.

”Much of what fouls our waters starts out on land,” Ms. Mesa said in a statement, adding that the ban ”will improve our rivers and waterfront and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean, with its rich fisheries and marine life.”

In some corners of the city, though, concerns were less high-minded. Though many restaurants have moved away from foam, it remains a staple for others — the clamshells lugged daily from food carts and bodegas, sealing in the heat, to be opened at home or in the company of subway riders or co-workers unable to ignore the smell.

Foam containers are lightweight, vendors say, and they are cheap, though there have been problems.

Daniel Vazquez, an employee at Papaya Dog in Greenwich Village, where foam containers are stacked behind the counter, said visitors had occasionally pierced the inexpensive cups with their fingers. ”Some people push too hard,” he said.

At a cart across the street, Sammay’s Halal Food, John Flynn, 22, who works as a porter nearby, endorsed foam as the carrier of choice, particularly in the dead of winter.

”I just want to keep my food warm,” he said, his breath visible.

Implementing a Comprehensive Recycling Program on St. John

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Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. hosted a meeting at Government House Monday morning to discuss implementation of a comprehensive recycling program on St. John. The program would be built on a public-private partnership that will involve the collection of household goods, crushing of aluminum cans and transportation of waste based on support from local vendors and shippers.

Joining the Governor at the meeting included: St. John Administrator Leona Smith, Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls, Jim Grum of the VI Waste Management Authority and Harith Wickrema, Bill Willigerod and Rob Crane of Island Green Living Association.

De Jongh said the objective is to “build on what is now in place in partnership with the community and to arrive at a point where the island of St. John can become known for its commitment to being “green” while sustaining that commitment with a strong educational program that will draw the interest of our children.”

Dividing and Conquering the Trash

Across the country, millions of companies are creating trash, including food waste, cardboard, plastics and various other materials. These companies hire waste management firms to pick up their trash and truck it to a landfill. Nate Morris, chief of Rubicon Global, uses his company to connect businesses with waste haulers and recyclers that handle their trash. He says his process is helping companies save 20 to 30 percent on waste removal costs, and at the same time helping to protect the environment.

Read more here