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FAA WANTS ANSWERS TO LANDFILL CLOSURE PLAN

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Aug. 24, 2001 — While the Federal Aviation Administration’s Dec. 31, 2002 closure deadline for the Anguilla Landfill on St. Croix is not necessarily written in stone, FAA officials nonetheless want answers from the V.I. government.
V.I. Port Authority Executive Director Gordon Finch, testifying Thursday before the Senate Finance Committee, said FAA officials are "very, very tired" of listening to the same reasons why the landfill adjacent to St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport has yet to be moved. In fact, Finch, who had been on the mainland until Thursday meeting with FAA officials about the airport’s proposed control tower, read a letter he had just received from the FAA.
It said the FAA is preparing its grant requests for fiscal year 2002 for developing the Rohlsen Airport and wanted to know what action has been taken by the Port Authority and the Turnbull administration to "satisfy the commitment" made to close the landfill by the end of next year.
Because of the threat that scavenging birds and frequent dump fires pose to aircraft using the airport, the FAA has ordered the landfill closed. But in order to do that, a new waste facility must be constructed.
The FAA has the authority to decertify the runway and close the St. Croix airport if the deadline is not met.
Finch has also said the FAA has threatened to turn the approximately $31 million in federal grants to renovate the airport into loans if the deadline is missed.
But Finch told senators that the deadline wasn’t cast in stone.
"They did not say they would not give an extension," he said.
Finance Committee Chairwoman Alicia "Chucky" Hansen said the landfill issue needs to be resolved. She scolded the Turnbull administration for not being candid about a landfill closure plan and about a replacement.
"How can you do long-range planning if you don’t have the cards on the table," she said.
The Turnbull administration is leaning heavily toward a waste-to-energy gasification plant that will likely carry a price tag of between $150 million and $200 million. Such a facility would be the single most costly project ever undertaken by the V.I. government.
The landfill is located on Port Authority land but operated by the Public Works Department, which had forecast construction of the gasification plant to begin last March. A revised schedule now has work beginning sometime next year with a construction timeline of at least 20 months.
Tentative sites for the new facility are near the molasses pier or on the property of the now-closed St. Croix Alumina. Both of those sites, however, still could cause problems with the FAA because they are within 10,000 feet of the airport’s runway.

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