More than 1,500 gallons of a potentially dangerous pesticide is being removed from Department of Agriculture property on St. Croix by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program..
The EPA began cleanup of 28, 55-gallon drums of Malathion at the agriculture facility in Estate Lower Love on Jan. 6. Work is expected to take six months and cost $150,000, which the V.I. government will pay for, according to an EPA release.
Malathion is a commonly used pesticide used to control mosquitoes, fruit flies, household insects and lice. To use the pesticide it must be diluted to very low concentrations that pose minimal risk to humans. High doses of Malathion can cause adverse health effects in people and is toxic to fish and other aquatic life.
Because of the poor condition of the drums at the Lower Love site, some Malathion has leaked out onto the ground, said EPA officials. The agency is concerned that rain could wash the pesticide into the groundwater beneath the site. There is also concern that in the event of an accident or vandalism, the health of nearby residents and workers could be threatened.
"Thanks to the hard work and quick response of EPA’s Superfund staff, we are eliminating any threat to the Kingshill community and environment of pesticide contamination from this facility," said Jeanne Fox, EPA regional administrator. "The government of the Virgin Islands asked for our assistance in removing the chemicals, and we anticipate a smooth and uneventful operation."
The 28 drums of Malathion were to be used by the V.I. Department of Health for mosquito control. But improper storage of the pesticide with other hazardous chemicals at the Department of Health’s Charles Harwood Complex in 1995 prompted the department, with the EPA, to move the Malathion to Agriculture’s site in Lower Love.
The drums, however, were kept outside and ultimately deteriorated from exposure to the elements. Last November the Department of Agriculture asked the EPA to remove the drums.
Last year the EPA completed a six-month, $500,000 cleanup of a V.I. government-owned warehouse on St. Thomas. The Department of Property and Procurement-operated warehouse was filled with improperly stored chemical containers and potentially dangerous materials.
EPA found approximately 100, 50-pound containers of a chlorine-based oxidizer, herbicides, 300 cans of solvent-borne paint, caustics and 10 drums of unknown substances. Property and Procurement operated the warehouse for the storage and distribution of chemicals to different agencies within the government until the 1970s. Over the years, the warehouse fell into disrepair and materials stored inside, including several drums of waste oil, began to deteriorate.
The chemicals removed from the warehouse were loaded onto a cargo ship for transport to licensed disposal sites on the U.S. mainland.


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