Group Title: Olasee Davis articles
Title: V.I. community has ignored waste problems for too long
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 Material Information
Title: V.I. community has ignored waste problems for too long
Physical Description: Archival
Language: English
Creator: Davis, Olasee
Publication Date: May 31, 1996
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Bibliographic ID: CA01300919
Volume ID: VID00150
Source Institution: University of the Virgin Islands
Holding Location: University of the Virgin Islands
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

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20 Th ly Newmsm Fdy, May 31.19


V.I. community has ignored waste problems for too long

Many of us in the Virgin Islands on St. Croix where people have iorg Jr. tried to address the prob- to step in where local government
foolourtvesbybelievingttwhen dumped anything you could image* OS lems with the Bovoni landfill, haven't. In 1979, the federal gov-
we dump garage in our rash ca iae. Public Works had to post a sign which has bee plagued with sever* emment mandaed the U.S. Envi.
mor solid waste poblesaresolved. next to the bin waning people not *I above-ground fires. Donastorg ronmental Protection Agency to
Our government doesn't do much to dump beds, tires, lelevions. etc. oQ held a public hearingon St. Thomas establish national performance stan-
be. he government for years Workmen from Public Works to discuss the landfill. Public dads for solid waste disposl facili-
been avoiding the erritry's landfill are even forced to guard garbage works, which regulate the islands' ies, with certain limited exceptions.
problem, thinking that it will go bins by hiding behind trees o see if landfills, did not even show their In the 1984 Hazardous and Solid
away. people are obeying the sign's faces at the hearing. This kind of Waste Amendments. Congress
It hasa'L You see, we do as we instruction. Works Department has a careless attitude is held by many when it mandated revisions to these criteria.
please by throwing garbage any Do yo think people care about attitude about the territory's comes o environmental issues.
place we like. I know of one how they dispose of their garbage? garbage problems. The U.S. government has tried V See OLASEE pge21
garbage bin in the Good Hope are Of course not. Even the Public On May 14. Sen. Adlah Donas.


Rules on waste wait to be enforced

In 1988, EPA proposed revised
criteria for municipal solid waste
landfills. These new national criteria
for the management of solid waste
apply to all states and territories.
In 1991. EPA gathered extensive
public comments and developed the
final rules for every aspect of land-
fill management. The proposed reg-
ulations also contained specific
restrictions on locating landfills at,
on, or near flood plains, airports.
wetlands, fault areas, seismic
impact zones, and unstable areas.
In 1993. these laws became
effective not only for the U.S.
mainland. but also for the Virgin
Islands. The question is. are we
abiding by these new regulations to
protect the environment and to safe
guard people's lives?
The Army Corps of Engineers
has even called the Bovoni landfill a
"toxic waste dump." The situation is
so bad at the dump site that people in
the area have been treated for respi-
ratory problems and other ailments.
The cause of the fires at the
Bovoni landfill is methane gas,
which has been building up under-

ground for years. Methane is a prod.
uct of the anaerobic (absence of air)
decomposition of organic materials.
At municipal solid waste landfills,
methane can migrate through the soil
and accumulate in closed areas.
where it can present significant
explosion danger if not properly con-
trolled. This gas also is explosive in
confined spaces. when found in con-
centrations between 5 to 15 percent,
Landfill gas emissions are con-
prised of a mixture of carbon diox-
ide and methane, of which methane
comprises 0O to 60 percent.
A normal landfill will generate
methane at these concentration for
10 to 20 years as waste decomposi-
tion takes place, although methane
generation can continue for over
00 years. In addition to methane and
carbon dioxide, landfill gas usually
contains small quantities of volatile
organic compounds. Volatile organic
compounds are often toxic and some-
times carcinogenic. They may present
an environmental risk at landfills
However, due to the inherent
danger, methods of controlling
landfill gas have been developed.

Two of these methods are known as
active and passive systems.
Active systems use blowers to
extract landfill gas from the landfill.
In passive systems, trenches are dug
around the perimeter of the landfill
and filled with gravel and perforated
piping. As methane forms in the
landfill, it migrates to the perimeter
trenches, where it travels up the pip-
ing and is eventually vented or
flared. In some instances, a mem-
brane liner is added to the outside
walls of the trenches to further inhib-
it gas migration beyond the site.
Our local decision makers are
charged with the task of instituting
an overall waste management pro-
gram. It has some work to do.
However, the community is
responsible as well, for how they dis-
pose of garbage. While solutions ar
possible, believe me, the talk of trans-
porting garbage from St. Thomas to
St. Croix is not the answer.

Olasee Davs. who holds a master
ofscience degree in range manage-
ment and forestry ecology. is a St.
Cror ecologist. activist and writer.

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