For those of you th...
 
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For those of you that may be slightly interested in Water quality in the Virgin Islands

(@alana33)
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member
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Here's a letter a friend wrote:

Dear Governor Mapp and VI Legislators:

Based on the number of properties in the Virgin Islands that are non-compliant with federal water quality and public health laws, some have expressed feeling overwhelmed with "what can we do about such a huge problem?".

There's perhaps a very straightforward way we can at least begin to address a few of the most egregious environmental and drinking water quality circumstances in the VI, and which have persisted and worsened over a period of many years.
As noted below in EDC eligibility requirements, compliance with federal environmental laws is among those. There are at least 2 federal laws being broken by who knows how many EDC beneficiaries (up to 4, though I only kept track of 2 when looking at publicly available records on EPA's database). And as much of the public knows, EDC beneficiaries pay no property taxes; No gross receipts taxes; Get up to 90% income tax exempt status; etc. There are dozens of other offenders of the Safe Drinking Water Act, including many schools throughout the VI, along with dozens of long-time violators of the Clean Water Act.

Just select Virgin Islands, without adding any more information in doing a search, and hundreds of properties will come up.

We hear so often that the VI Government hasn't enough resources to do their jobs effectively, or that the territory struggles to find the funds for things like recycling (and of course that helps with compliance with RCRA, another federal law). The truth is, if all these properties receiving EDC benefits were self-policing -- and not demanding response and notifications and compliance actions from DPNR and other enforcement programs, those VI programs would have more time and resources to solve yet more problems, which would in turn invite more long-time residents and businesses to remain in the territory, and more tourists to want to come here.

There is a very easy action available to you for now, needing only a series of pen strokes: Please withdraw all EDC benefits from all non-compliant properties, effective immediately (and perhaps retro-actively, since so many have been non-compliant for years).

There are many offenders not listed in the EPA's database, and it of course needs regular updating (which I understand a DPNR staffer is assigned to do). But the list we do have is so long that it would take a while just to deal with that.

Best regards,
Susan Parten, P.E.
For a list of EDC benefits:

https://www.usvieda.org/start-business/edc-tax-incentives/tax-incentives-how-do-they-work
EDC Eligibility

PDF version
Basic Requirements for Benefits

In order to receive benefits from the V.I. Economic Development Commission, an applicant must:

Provide full-time employment for at least 10 residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands who have resided in the V.I. at least one year prior to being hired by the tax beneficiary. Provided further, than an enterprise which is apply for economic development benefits as a category IIA enterprise engaged in non-labor intensive financial services, shall be required to employ a minimum of five (5) full-time persons.

Invest at least $100,000, exclusive of inventory, in an industry or business that advances the economic well-being of the USVI.
Meet the requirements of Section 934 of the Internal Revenue Code in the case of a USVI corporation, individual or partnership, or Section 936 of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code in terms of a V.I. Subsidiary of a U.S. Corporation.
Be an actual investor in the enterprise for which industrial development benefits are sought, not a contractor, subcontractor or other person or corporation acting as an agent.

Comply with all federal and local laws and regulations, including environmental laws.

Provide an easement for free access to the beach or shoreline, if the applicant will be doing business on property that adjoins the shoreline.

 
Posted : March 13, 2016 11:35 pm
(@alana33)
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member
Topic starter
 

Our beaches regularly test for high levels of enterococci bacteria.
3 Beaches in St. John and 3 Beaches on St. Croix Not safe this Weekend.
[viconsortium.com]

This is an ongoing situation.

An engineer friend recently wrote this:

I've looked at "report card" on the VI's compliance with important federal laws protecting our drinking water supplies, surface water and shorelines, solid waste management practices, etc., it is absolutely stunning the long list of offenders. Particularly disturbing is the fact that many of these offenders are EDC beneficiaries. Along with crazy amounts of sewage-related violations, it's shocking the amount of Safe Drinking Water Act violations, including private and public schools, etc.

I question on the one hand if that's even legal (surely there's some requirement that beneficiaries of EDC benefits must obey applicable laws... (???).

Regardless though of how the laws governing those benefits now read, I feel it's vital that, as just one measure in reining in this egregious situation, that the legislature make clear through statute that any entity found to be non-compliant with federal or local statutes be denied benefits until such time as they've achieved full compliance.

She recently wrote (as above) the VI Legislature and our Governor and included the detailed facility report for Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) for many places on St. Croix as well as St. Thomas. The amount of non compliance is staggering as is the amount of pollution going into our waters on a regular basis.

 
Posted : March 13, 2016 11:37 pm
CruzanIron
(@cruzaniron)
Posts: 2531
Famed Member
 

I still can't think of one EDC company on STX that is in a position to pollute the water.

 
Posted : March 13, 2016 11:43 pm
(@alana33)
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member
Topic starter
 

Go to the ECHO site and take a look at compliance issues.
Or non compliance, as the cases may be.
Why do you think so many beaches regularly test for high enterococci bacteria levels, even when there is no rain.

WAPA has old pipes as do schools.
Investigate and come to your own conclusions

 
Posted : March 13, 2016 11:53 pm
(@Spartygrad95)
Posts: 1885
Noble Member
 

Schools are EDC companies?

 
Posted : March 13, 2016 11:56 pm
(@alana33)
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member
Topic starter
 

The issues are with clean water, Sparty, whether it's resorts, schools, public or private sector as well as EDC companies.

I wish I could share the PDF's that have been shared and downloaded.
Check out the ECHO site.

 
Posted : March 14, 2016 12:01 am
(@alana33)
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member
Topic starter
 

https://echo.epa.gov/

 
Posted : March 14, 2016 12:17 am
CruzanIron
(@cruzaniron)
Posts: 2531
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I see a lot of companies that no longer exist and others that create absolutely no water pollution at all.

 
Posted : March 14, 2016 8:09 am
(@alana33)
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member
Topic starter
 

Seek and ye shall find.

 
Posted : March 14, 2016 10:56 am
(@ms411)
Posts: 3554
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I can't find the violators on either links posted. When I type st thomas, virgin islands, I get no results. When I type 00802, it shows me NJ.

Would love to see the list, but if the letter Ms. Parten sent doesn't make it easy for the legislature to find the violators, they are less likely to investigate.

Sugar Bay lost their EDC benefits, and based on an article this weekend, it looks like they're likely to close. Over 40 people have lost their jobs. Certainly not the large scale caused by Hovensa closing, but it's the same economic blow for those 40+ who lost their jobs.

I think he also denied Secret Harbor EDC benefits. Don't remember seeing the reason for that one, but his reasons so far have mostly been for other violations. He did campaign on going after EDC violators, so at least he's upholding that promise to a degree.

 
Posted : March 14, 2016 4:50 pm
(@Spartygrad95)
Posts: 1885
Noble Member
 

Sugar Bay is not going to close.

 
Posted : March 14, 2016 4:53 pm
(@ms411)
Posts: 3554
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I got it now, and saved the Excel file.

Thanks.

 
Posted : March 14, 2016 4:56 pm
(@the-oldtart)
Posts: 6523
Illustrious Member
 

Sugar Bay is not going to close.

But it is, however, facing serious challenges since losing its EDC status and is now facing charges of illegally laying off employees in violation of DOL mandates:
http://viconsortium.com/business/judge-orders-sugar-bay-to-stop-terminating-employees/

The difficulties it's facing only accelerate the downslide it's gone through since Wyndham disassociated itself from the resort. If it can't dig itself out of the rather large pit it's sunk into over the last few years it's not unrealistic to foresee a closing or a sale in the future.

 
Posted : March 14, 2016 5:01 pm
(@ms411)
Posts: 3554
Famed Member
 

The AG seems to think that Sugar Bay may be trying to circumvent the Plant Closing Act. That gives me the impression they may close. I don't see how they can run that large property with fewer than 100 employees.

http://viconsortium.com/business/judge-orders-sugar-bay-to-stop-terminating-employees/

 
Posted : March 14, 2016 5:40 pm
(@Spartygrad95)
Posts: 1885
Noble Member
 

They do not have fewer than 100 employees..

 
Posted : March 14, 2016 6:13 pm
(@vicanuck)
Posts: 2928
Famed Member
 

Its a strategy to prepare the property for closure and then to sell it. Any business in that state would attempt to do the same. Once its sold and in the hands of a group with some capital, it will flourish again.

 
Posted : March 14, 2016 6:29 pm
(@ms411)
Posts: 3554
Famed Member
 

It took years to get the Margaritaville property sold and renovated. The last thing the VI needs is another major business closing.

 
Posted : March 14, 2016 7:25 pm
(@daveb722)
Posts: 798
Prominent Member
 

Mapp will figure it out and let you know next February how he's gonna do it.

 
Posted : March 14, 2016 10:58 pm
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