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maybe we helped make a difference

Posts: 2104
Noble Member
Topic starter

A while ago I asked all of you to contact VIWMA and EPA to complain about the sewage being pumped into Christiansted Harbor.

If you did, thanks because it has had an impact.

Click headline to enlarge
U.S. asks court to stop V.I. from dumping sewage into sea
Saturday, March 13th 2010

The federal government has filed a motion in District Court to stop the V.I. Waste Management Authority from dumping millions of gallons of sewage into the Caribbean Sea.

The motion, filed Thursday, asks the court to order the Virgin Islands to cease the "unlawful bypass" of raw sewage from the Figtree pump station in to Cane Garden Bay. The Figtree station is near the HOVENSA refinery on St. Croix's south shore.

According to the motion, Waste Management has dumped more than 50 million gallons of sewage into the ocean since January - averaging 300,000 to 500,000 gallons a day. Both Figtree and the LBJ pump station - which bypasses sewage over Long Reef - have had numerous breakdowns and have had to dump sewage into the ocean.

"These bypasses have been caused by the failure of VIWMA to properly operate and maintain the house pumps at Figtree and to expeditiously repair pumps when they have malfunctioned," the motion said.

The problems at the Figtree pump station began Jan. 17 when electrical problems caused a pump to fail.

Under normal operating conditions, there are three pumps at the station. Two of them broke down in December and were sent to Puerto Rico to be fixed by the manufacturer, so the pump that failed in January was the last pump working at the station.

When the last pump failed, the station's backup pumping system - run by a new diesel pump - was activated, but on Jan. 22 that system also failed.

At the time, a damaged suction line resulted in a sewage overflow, but the line was replaced and the backup system was up and running soon after. The next day, a second overflow occurred because a low pump setting was in place during a high-flow period.

The system was fixed again but quickly failed again. Repairs were made again and by March 4, the diesel pump was operational once more.

While the backup pump is running and has reduced the overflow at the station, sewage is still being dumped into the Figtree Gut.

"It can't handle the amount of flow," Waste Management spokeswoman Stella Saunders said Friday.

Saunders could not give an estimate of when the pump station would be able to stop bypassing sewage into the ocean.

"We are working feverishly to resolve the failures at the Figtree pump station," Saunders said.

During the last few months, Waste Management has been bypass pumping at LBJ to lessen the impact of the Figtree overflow. The LBJ bypass stopped Feb. 26.

The federal government said in Thursday's court filing that in addition to the problems at LBJ and Figtree, the Barren Spot pump station on St. Croix and the Cancryn pump station on St. Thomas also are in danger of failing as well.

The motion said all three house pumps at Cancryn have failed and the station is operating on an emergency diesel pump. Only one of the two pumps at Barren Spot is operational, according to the court document.

The motion asks the court to order Waste Management to immediately ensure that there are backup pumps available at both Cancryn and Barren Spot. The motion also said the U.S. government wants Waste Management to repair or replace any house pumps at any of its other pump stations, develop short and long term plans to address the matter, repair future failed pumps in a timely manner and submit regular reports to the court.

"In view of the clear threat to human health and the environment posed by ongoing discharges of raw sewage, the United States requests that the Court hear this matter on an expedited basis," the motion said.

The federal government asked the court to schedule a hearing by Tuesday or Wednesday.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 774-8772 ext. 311 or e-mail

Posted : March 15, 2010 1:29 pm
A Davis
Posts: 687
Honorable Member

wow, that is fabulous.

Posted : March 15, 2010 4:24 pm
Posts: 2104
Noble Member
Topic starter

Please send a message to one or both links in this post,131014,131018#msg-131018 to help get this ongoing issue solved. Thanks

Posted : March 15, 2010 4:32 pm
Posts: 2552
Famed Member

Great to see some action may occur!

Posted : March 17, 2010 8:34 pm
Posts: 2104
Noble Member
Topic starter

The article in todays Source decribes how inept the VIWMA is. Whom ever is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the pumping stations should start to work on his GED.

And where are the Senators voices in this major health and environmental issue? How about the Governor? Loosers all! This is just the basics.

Posted : March 17, 2010 10:55 pm
Posts: 277
Reputable Member

It's amazing how powerless the federal government is. There is a blatant destruction of environment going on, and all they could do is go sue the Waste Mgmt? Wonderful.

Posted : March 18, 2010 12:58 am
Posts: 1842
Noble Member

The Problem is the Federal Gov will go to Court and win. The court will give the VI Govt a short period of time to fix or resolve the problem with the pumps. If they (VI Govt) can't fix the problem the Fines start to kick in and guess who pays those fines.:S

Posted : March 18, 2010 11:54 am
Posts: 2104
Noble Member
Topic starter

From the STX Source article 3/17/2010

We didn’t want any money. No penalties. No fines,” said EPA engineer Pedro Modesto, who oversees a decades-old consent decree on sewage between the federal and local governments.
“We just wanted the bypass stopped and for them to do what they need to do so that it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
The order calls for immediate repairs to the Figtree and LBJ sewage pump stations on St. Croix and repairs to all 75 of its damaged or inoperable pumps territory-wide over the next 45 days.

Posted : March 18, 2010 12:18 pm
Posts: 631
Honorable Member

years ago, after a meeting on an unrelated subject, I had a long discussion in NY with one of the EPA folks who was quite involved with stx at the time. He had a lot of points/issues...was obviously a sore spot and frustrating to many of the staff...said they could send someone down to work with our folks and deal with an issue at a pump station or the treatment facility, and when the EPA person got back on the plane it was just like they'd never been on island..everyone went back to whatever they were doing, or did not implement the suggestions etc....He also said that the EPA had no real enforcement powers, and it was up to the justice dept to enforce (as here). Referred to fining the VI as "getting blood out of a stone"..said if they had the money they likely would have fixed the problems, so what was the point/what would be gained by giving them fines they would/could never pay without getting more money from the feds??? Said that what the VI needed were some advocates in Washington (which perhaps we have more of today than then)..and without a "godfather" we were always going to be on the end of the line for money and programs....said ordinarily he'd suggest getting as much media exposure of the problems as possible, but also said we were doing that already... seems like little has changed...

Posted : March 18, 2010 12:21 pm
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