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July 16, 2002 – Environmental specialists working since Saturday to remove seven containers of hazardous chlorine gas from the wastewater treatment plant near the Anguilla landfill unearthed an eighth container on Monday.
The plan was to remove four 150-pound cylinders and three one-ton gas containers from the South Shore plant east of Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, with WRS Infrastructure and Environment Inc. contracted by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to carry out the work. The Tampa, Florida, firm specializes in soil and underground clean-up and removal of heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants.
While removing the known containers, WRS workers discovered the eighth cylinder, which was partially buried.
On Monday, work was under way to remove the gas from a one-ton container. The clean-up process involves neutralizing the chlorine gas with a sodium-hydroxide solution.
"We've been up since 3 a.m.," Clanicia Pelle, hazardous waste supervisor for the Planning and Natural Resources Department, said Tuesday afternoon from her office. "We work when it's coolest. The [gas] reaction goes better that way."
Pelle said the chlorine in the abandoned containers was a byproduct of sewage treatment at the plant and formerly was used to treat effluent at the plant for re-use by commercial entities. But the process has not been used since Hurricane Hugo, 13 years ago, she said.
For the chlorine gas clean-up, EPA officials are coordinating an on-site team that includes personnel from the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency, Fire Service, Planning and Natural Resources Department, Public Works Department and U.S. Coast Guard Emergency Response Team.
EPA personnel have taken precautionary measures for the removal of the chlorine gas at the St. Croix site. Chlorine is a dense, yellow-green gas that is corrosive and explosive and moderately soluble in water. (Chlorinating water using chemical tablets is a standard maintenance procedure with swimming pools.) The gas was introduced as a chemical weapon in France in 1915. Inhaling the gas can cause shortness of breath, nausea, chest pain, headache and coughing.
A public information meeting was held on Friday at the Port Authority conference room to discuss the removal plans. Pelle said the turnout was minimal, but members of one local organization wanted to know how the removal project would affect drag racing in the vicinity.
Lloyd Daniel, owner of Dan's Trucking and Trash Removal, said he was concerned about preserving the surface of the car drag strip, a stretch of road which can serve as an alternate route to the Anguilla landfill and wastewater treatment plant. EPA officials "promised faithfully they are willing to address any damage to the surface," he said.
Daniel was joined at the meeting by two other trash haulers and racing enthusiasts, James Bates and Gary Thomas. Daniel described himself as "a concerned racer" and longtime member of the Caribbean Drag Racing Association. "I'd like to preserve the facilities for the sport," he said.

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