Home News Local news OVER 3,000 BATTERIES ROUNDED UP FOR REMOVAL

OVER 3,000 BATTERIES ROUNDED UP FOR REMOVAL

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July 7, 2001 – Car, truck and boat batteries are nothing less than "shells carrying hazardous materials," which is why a community group has worked to get thousands of them removed from the islands of St. Thomas and St. John.
Proper disposal of batteries, in fact, is a requirement of a consent decree between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Virgin Islands government.
The EPA coordinator in the Virgin Islands, James Casey, said any battery "shell" contains potentially dangerous amounts of acid and lead. If these materials leech out of the casing, they can contaminate soil and water supplies. Most batteries on the two islands end up at the Bovoni landfill, where, Casey said, the occasional fires pose an added "potential for a major toxic release" into the air.
The danger is threatening, not imminent.
Preliminary assessments of sediment and water quality have not found high levels of lead on the island at present, Casey said. But "it's best to prevent it from happening," rather than to try to clean up after it does, he added. Lead, in particular, "is a persistent toxic. It does not deteriorate in the environment," he noted.
Hence the decree, and the project undertaken by the Anti-Litter and Beautification Commission: to conduct a battery round-up on St. Thomas and St. John. More than 3,000 lead-acid batteries were collected.
A private company contracted by the commission, the Battery Recycling Company of Puerto Rico, is removing the batteries and shipping them off-island to a disposal site. The project is scheduled to be completed Sunday.
The company also is working with the commission and the local government on a permanent battery recycling plan.

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