May 30, 2001 – Under pressure from two federal agencies to address problems at the Anguilla landfill, the V.I. government has yet to choose an alternative site or to finalize a plan to manage solid waste in accordance with U.S. regulations. But Sonia Nelthropp, technical assistant to the Public Works commissioner, says the administration will comply with all requirements on time.
The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered that access to the St. Croix landfill be regulated and that certain materials be handled more responsibly. And the Federal Aviation Administration has warned that nearby Henry E. Rohlsen Airport will be deemed unsafe unless the dump is closed by the end of next year.
"The deadline that we stop accepting solid waste at the site is December 2002," Nelthropp said. "We are in the process of establishing guidelines for security of the site and monitoring what is coming into the dump." At the same time, she said, efforts are being made to address the concerns about scavenging birds that are frequent the dump to feed on garbage. "There are mitigation funds available for that," she noted.
Nelthropp is working with the governor's economic policy adviser, Kent Bernier, to develop the territory's waste management strategy — and a plan for financing it. With the deadline less than two years away to come up with an alternative to Anguilla, the need to identify a new landfill location is critical. According to Bernier, the ideal site would address the FAA's concern about scavenging birds in aircraft flight paths and also allow for garbage transfer and eventual disposal by methods acceptable to the EPA.
Bernier said he believes such a site can be identified by the end of summer. "Within 90 days, we'll have an answer on the permanent solution," he said. "We are still in negotiations." He said the administration wants to make certain that the proposal is in full federal compliance before announcing it publicly.
Once the immediate waste management crisis is resolved, the next challenge is one that must be met by the entire population. Nelthropp said Virgin Islanders will have to adjust to new regulations on disposing of household waste — and probably new costs associated with them. People must "personally address" what they do with their garbage, she said. "In a modern society, residents are responsible for disposing of waste."
Given that people often respond to unwelcome rules by breaking them, Nelthropp said, the government is preparing to deal with non-compliance. She said V.I. residents are less likely to dump refuse illegally if they see complying with regulations as being in their own best interest. "We must offer incentives to force compliance [with] all rules and regulations regarding solid waste management," she said.
Government planners are reportedly studying several approaches to financing a new system, including charging fees for household pickup, where feasible, and for dumping at the landfill.


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