June 10, 2002 Environmental Protection Agency officials hope the public will turn out this week for meetings they've called to review and get the community's input on their proposed administrative order on the territory's management of used oil.
Jim Casey, local coordinator for the EPA, said Monday, "We are making an all-out effort to make sure the initiative doesn't fall behind."
EPA and the V.I. government have agreed to the order, but want public comment and support.
"We want to make sure they (the public) have their hands on this so they can hold the departments accountable," Casey said.
The departments are Planning and Natural Resources and Public Works, which have agreed to the terms of the order. It requires the government to perform six major tasks:
Report on funding for used oil management.
Provide trained drivers for DPW's two used-oil tanker trucks.
Reopen used-oil collection centers throughout the territory.
Inform the public that the collection centers are open.
Promptly issue any commercial used-oil generator permits
Assist commercial used-oil generators in recycling their used oil at the Hovensa facility on St. Croix.
In December, Geraldine Smith, special waste-program coordinator at Public Works, told the Source that Public Works was upgrading its waste-oil program so it would conform to federal guidelines, a project she expected would be finished in about three months. She said Public Works had secured some of the required permits from the Planning and Natural Resources Department but needed more site and vehicle permits as well as certification for one driver to deal with hazardous materials. The department also needed to develop an oil-spill prevention plan, she said.
At that time information was made available about where the public could take used oil during the revamping of DPW's waste-oil collection system.
EPA's notice of this week's meetings said that under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, EPA has the authority to issue orders "in cases where the management of solid or hazardous waste may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health or the environment. EPA will issue the proposed order to the Virgin Islands government to protect the sensitive ecosystems of the Virgin Islands from spills and improper management of used oil."
The public may examine the proposed order and background documents at DPNR's offices on St. Croix at 45 Mars Hill, Frederiksted, and on St. Thomas at the Cyril E. King Airport or at EPA's office at the Tunick Building.
The meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Education Curriculum Centers on St. Croix and St. Thomas. The first meeting will be on St. Croix on Wednesday, June 12. The second will be on St. Thomas on Thursday, June 13.
Casey and at least one other representative from EPA will be available to explain the order and answer questions.
Casey said a meeting may eventually be held on St. John, too.