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Fire Rages At Anguilla Landfill Near Henry Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix This Morning

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FREDERIKSTED — St. Croix’s Anguilla landfill was on fire again this morning.

St. Croix Sen. Novelle Francis Jr., a former St. Croix police chief, weighed in on the “active fire” on Facebook.

“I was just advised that the Anguilla landfill is experiencing an active fire,” Francis said. “The Virgin Islands Fire Service and Waste Management contractors are currently working to suppress the fire.”

Francis urged the motoring public to try to avoid traveling to the airport unless it is absolutely necessary until the fire is extinguished.

“The public and all solid waste and wastewater haulers is advised that the St. Croix Transfer Station and Anguilla Landfill are closed and not receiving waste today and until further notice, he said. “Some smoke has impacted visibility on Airport Road and motorists should avoid traveling along the Airport Road until further notice.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that the fire is not currently impacting air traffic at Henry Rohlsen Airport.

“There is no impact to air traffic operations due to the landfill fire at this time,” said Arlene Salac, of FAA Communications.

But at 9:42 p.m., Francis said that the struggle to put out the blaze continued.

“As of tonight, the fire suppression at the Anguilla Landfill continues,” Sen. Francis said. “The public and all solid waste haulers are advised that the St. Croix Transfer Station and Anguilla Landfill remains closed, until further notice and residents should keep bulky waste at their residence. Officials at the Waste Management Authority say they are working diligently with the V.I. Fire Service, contractors and personnel, to resume normal operating hours.
They recommend that residents with respiratory conditions minimize exposure to smoke as wind directions change. Motorists are advised to avoid traveling along the Airport Road until further notice.”

The Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (VIWMA), in conjunction with contracted operator A-9 Trucking Enterprises, mans the landfill, according to VIWMA’s website.

In 2010, the U.S. government filed a lawsuit against the VIWMA and the Virgin Islands government that could cost the territory hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for their failure to bring the territory’s landfills up to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.

VIWMA and A-9 Trucking Enterprises also operate the Bovoni landfill on St. Thomas.

The Susannaberg Landfill on St. John was closed in the early 1990’s when an underground fire was discovered and extinguished.

At Anguilla, the local government agreed in September 2001 to correct issues that included failure to consistently cover the dump with dirt, inadequate security, inadequate inspection of garbage loads for hazardous waste, and subterranean and surface fires, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says that the V.I. Waste Management Authority also agreed to make plans to close Anguilla and Bovoni.

In October 2007, the authority submitted a landfill compliance schedule for Anguilla that said the dump would be closed by December 2008, the lawsuit states. In November 2005, the authority submitted a timetable to the EPA that promised that a long-term construction contract for the Bovoni landfill — including execution of the landfill’s closure — would be awarded by June 2008.

As of May 21, 2010 the progress with each landfill was deemed unsatisfactory enough that the U.S. Justice Department filed the suit on behalf of the EPA.


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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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