July 16, 2003 – The Public Works Department, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Planning and Natural Resources Department, opened the second site on St. Thomas Tuesday for the public to dispose properly of used motor oil in "igloo" containers.
Sonia Nelthropp, Public Works wastewater and solid waste manager, formally opened the gate to the facility at the Bovoni landfill in a small ceremony on Tuesday morning. Then Geraldine Smith, used oil program coordinator, provided "how to" instructions in the use of the igloos as well as information regarding the program to the gathered guests and media representatives.
"Using the oil from any vehicle with an internal combustion engine," Smith explained, "you can empty up to five gallons at any site per month, as long as it is kept clean from outside elements."
Residents take their used motor oil to a site in gallon jugs. At the entrance they sign a log indicating the quantity of oil they have brought. Then they pour the oil into the open igloo. Everyone's oil is mixed together in until the igloo is almost full.
Anyone wishing to dispose of the jug itself then turns it upside down and places it in a "universal funnel" leading to a 55-gallon drum next to the igloos. After 24 hours, when all of the residual oil has been drained into the funnel, the jug can then be disposed of at the landfill.
There are currently collection sites in operation on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John, with two igloos at each location. When one igloo is almost full, a sample of the contents is taken and sent to a laboratory on St. Croix for analysis. Then the filled igloo is locked and the other one is opened.
"If the sample analysis comes back clean," Smith said, the oil in the igloo is pumped into a vacuum truck which will haul it from the collection site to the Water and Power Authority or Hovensa for disposal, "as both of these organizations already have disposal facilities in place."
If the sample is found to be contaminated, the contents of the igloo are then placed in a waste hauling truck and sent to St. Croix for eventual shipment off island for disposal. "This would obviously cost us more to do," Smith said, "so we urge residents to keep it clean, and strictly motor oil."
Smith and Clanicia Pelle, DPNR solid waste management supervisor, provided statistics about the setup of each site:
– Each igloo holds 400 gallons of oil.
– Each vacuum truck holds a minimum of 1,000 gallons of oil.
– Each district has one vacuum truck.
– Use of the facilities at all sites is free to individual do-it-yourself oil changers; they are not intended for use by commercial operations.
"A media campaign will soon be under way in order to provide this information to the public," Smith said. And, she said, "we are also trying to form partnerships with local businesses in order to establish more D-I-Y sites." D-I-Y stands for do-it-yourself.
Here are the sites currently in operation and their times of access:
Public Works motor pool at Sub Base – Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Bovoni landfill – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Susannaberg transfer station – Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday and holidays 8 a.m.-noon.
Public Works compound at Anna's Hope – Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.-noon.
Construction of another St. Croix site is under way at Estate Concordia, and the program coordinators anticipate a Water Island location will soon be set up.
"Although these sites are not right next door," Smith said, "we want to encourage the public to take that extra step to protect the environment and the community of the V.I. by properly disposing of oil."
There are even plans to landscape the Bovoni collection site, she said, noting: "Just because it's located on a landfill doesn't mean that it has to be unattractive!"
Among those attending the opening ceremony were Jim Casey of the EPA's Caribbean Division; Uric Leonard, manager of the St. Thomas sites; Jason Budsan, a board member of the League of Women Voters, who poured in the first jugful of used oil; and Colette Monroe, representing Sen. Louis Hill.
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