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FAA BACKS OFF AS ANGUILLA DEADLINE LOOMS

Dec. 9, 2002 – It appears the Federal Aviation Administration will not make good on its threats to impose sanctions on the Port Authority if the Anguilla landfill is not shut down by the end of 2002, as was mandated two years ago.
Kathleen Bergen, FAA public affairs manager, said that the V.I. government has made strides toward closing the landfill. "As long as material progress is being made on the issue, the FAA will not take action against the airport," Bergen said.
In June, the government chose Landfill Technologies Corp., a waste-management company out of Puerto Rico, to build a wrap-and-bale facility at the Anguilla site, which is owned by the Port Authority but operated by the Public Works Department.
Federal law dictates that no landfill shall be located within 10,000 feet of an airport because of dangers to aircraft posed by foraging birds and dogs. A $9.3 million FAA grant for improvements to and expansion of Henry E. Rohlsen Airport hinged on the closing of the dump. VIPA's executive director, Gordon Finch, has said the FAA could require the government to repay that grant as a possible sanction for failing to comply with the order. Or, he said, the FAA could decertify the airport.
The Public Works technical assistant to the commissioner, Sonya Nelthropp, said on Monday that Landfill Technologies is nearing completion of a wildlife survey — ordered by the FAA — at Anguilla.
Nelthropp said company representatives and government officials will meet with FAA authorities in Florida on Dec. 19. At that time, she said, the government will formally request an extension on the deadline.
Bergen said she could not comment on any extension request until it is received.
Landfill Technologies was selected to wrap and store the island's garbage until the government comes up with a long-term solution to the territory's waste problem.
"Things are moving along," according to Nelthropp. She said FAA officials "have responded positively, and I understand that their main concern is that the area is managed properly and we eliminate the bird problem."
To such an end, she said, Landfill Technologies will develop and recommend an interim plan for dealing with scavenging birds. She said it might include a noise deterrent or specially trained dogs to keep the birds at bay.
She said the wrap-and-bale plan was approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and that Public Works now is in compliance with a consent order regarding the landfill entered into with the EPA.
The V.I. government has estimated the cost of the interim waste disposal plan at $10 million to $15 million for start-up work and an additional $5 million per year.

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