April 5, 2001 — The critics who spurred Gov. Charles Turnbull earlier this week to announce a plan aimed at solving the Anguilla Landfill crisis on St. Croix assailed the governors leadership on the issue Wednesday.
Following comments made by V.I. Republican Party officials last weekend that he needed to be more proactive to head off the possible closure of St. Croixs Henry E. Rohlsen Airport because of dangers posed by the adjacent landfill, Turnbull on Monday announced a two-phased plan to address the issue.
The governor said he would fast-track the process to allow construction of a state-of-the-art solid waste-management facility to replace the landfill, which the Federal Aviation Administration has deemed a hazard to aircraft because of scavenging birds and frequent fires.
Additionally, Turnbull said he would propose to the FAA hiring a firm to develop and implement an interim plan to address the bird and fire hazards.
On Wednesday, Joe Oliver, executive director of the V.I. Republican Party, said that while Turnbulls plans are well-intentioned, they arent broad or clear enough.
"Im happy the governor responded to what we said in regard to the Anguilla Landfill," Oliver said. "But I would hope he now gives us more information in regard to that."
While the FAA has given the V.I. government until December 2002 to shut down the landfill or face its closure, details on where the Turnbull administration stands in its efforts are not clear.
In order to close the landfill, a new waste-management facility must be built. The administration is leaning toward a waste-to-energy gasification plant that will cost between $150 million and $200 million, easily the single most expensive project ever undertaken by the V.I. government.
The Department of Public Works, which operates the landfill on V.I. Port Authority land, had forecast construction of the gasification plant to begin last month. A revised schedule now has construction beginning in about a year.
That delay will likely cause the government to miss the FAA deadline, which poses additional problems to the Port Authority. If the administration doesnt meet the landfill-closure deadline, millions of dollars in discretionary funds given to the Port Authority by the U.S. Department of Transportation to expand the airport could cease and the funds already given could be turned into loans.
Sonya Nelthropp, technical assistant to the Public Works commissioner on waste management, has not been available for comment this week. Turnbull did say that his administration has met with the firm chosen by Public Works to design and construct the proposed solid waste facility.
On Wednesday, Sen. Donald "Ducks" Cole, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environmental Protection, blasted Turnbull for the "secret plan" regarding the Anguilla Landfill issue. While Turnbull on Monday promised to involve the Legislature in solving the landfill issue, Cole noted that the governor vetoed an item in the recent 2000 Omnibus Act that required legislative oversight on a comprehensive solution to the problem. Cole suggested that the Senate should attempt an override of Turnbulls line-item veto.
"The governor appears to be inconsistent in that hes contradicted himself," Cole said. "If the Legislature is left out of the landfill issue, the people will have lost their voices."