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VIWMA Seeks to Set Record Straight on Landfill Contract

July 23, 2007 — We were saddened to read two erroneous and negative newspaper reports on the matter of a contract negotiated and entered into between the V.I. Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) and a company known as the Maguire Group Inc.
The first was an incorrect report by a reporter who attended the most recent monthly meeting of the VIWMA governing board and did not seek clarification of the facts, as is the norm with fair and responsible reporting. The second was an editorial by the same newspaper which relied on the erroneous report in spite of the fact that we had earlier informed the reporter of the errors in her report.
We therefore determined that it would be appropriate to provide the V.I. community with the unvarnished truth regarding the Bovoni Landfill contract matter.
In our continuing effort to manage the affairs of the VIWMA with the greatest degree of transparency, and for the benefit of the V.I. community, all branches of government — local and federal, our private partners and supporters and the media, which should report accurately — the Waste Management Authority submits this statement of facts. It summarizes our compliance with U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) administrative orders, and the professional services contracts with Maguire Group Inc. (MGI) with regard to the Bovoni Landfill compliance design engineering services. It is our intent that the facts contained herein will provide an accurate and balanced view of the actions recommended by the WMA staff and approved by our governing board.
First, the VIWMA has not operated in any manner that does not represent the best interest of the V.I. community. Without a doubt, our decisions regarding the Bovoni Landfill have always been driven by the need for compliance with all DPNR and EPA orders, as well as all statutory and regulatory requirements throughout the design phase and review process for bringing all three landfills into compliance with the various orders.
It is our firm position that our technical, engineering, and management knowledge and expertise have been employed every step of the way to protect the interest of the people of the Virgin Islands. All of our submissions to the EPA have been in accordance with applicable professional standards, and, in fact, the EPA has never rejected any design plans submitted by the VIWMA. Each time the EPA has reviewed our designs and commented on them, the VIWMA has satisfactorily addressed and answered all such comments, and submitted revised design plans accordingly. It is a cooperative effort between the VIWMA and the EPA, and it works well.
To summarize the facts:
1.The VIWMA confers with the EPA, the DOJ and local authorities each month to strategize on environmental issues in the Virgin Islands. In addition, technical meetings are held on a more frequent basis between the VIWMA technical staff and EPA’s staff.
2.The VIWMA continues to satisfactorily address the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) non-compliance findings against the central government of the Virgin Islands in a number of administrative orders dating back to 1998 — long before the VIWMA was created.
3.Certain Clean Air Act (CAA) compliance orders were later issued in August 2006, triggering a statutory compliance deadline of Aug. 16, 2007. The VIWMA continues to address the requirements set forth in these Compliance Orders, and we are resolved to meet the August 16 deadline.
4. All EPA submissions have been technically sound and consistent with the VIWMA project approach at the time of submissions. The EPA, as one should expect, reviews the submissions for acceptability with regard to their own compliance guidelines and provides comments accordingly.
5. The VIWMA has responded satisfactorily to all EPA review comments and suggestions to effectively meet all compliance requirements.
6. The EPA has never rejected any design plans and specifications prepared by the Maguire Group and submitted by the Waste Management Authority. They have merely commented relative to their compliance guidelines.
7. To meet the EPA final slope-and-grade guidelines at Bovoni, the final landfill slopes would have increased the footprint beyond a wetlands delineation line, requiring an Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) permit, which would have been a lengthy process. Therefore, in an effort to meet our compliance schedule and avoid costly federal sanctions, the VIWMA made the decision not to extend the final landfill slope beyond the delineation line and thereby eliminate the need for an ACOE permit. This decision impacted the engineering design and construction cost of the landfill closure and expansion. This decision was not based on any lack of the professionalism or the work product of the Maguire Group or the VIWMA technical staff.
8.Originally a “piggyback” landfill expansion design for the Bovoni Landfill had been decided upon. That is a design by which an existing landfill is closed and a new landfill, or “cell,” is built on top of the closed landfill. However, at Bovoni, the piggyback design was deemed no longer feasible due to the high costs associated with constructing retaining walls to stabilize the slope of the final landfill. The estimated cost of such stabilization was $10 million. This elimination of the proposed expansion effectively reduced the remaining landfill capacity from 13 to seven years; not two years, as stated in the newspaper reports.
9. The new contract scope of work with the Maguire Group now recommended by the staff and approved by the board will address the modified landfill closure design and a gas collection and control system design required by the federal Clean Air Act. This latter scope of work was never included in any previous contract scope of work with Maguire, and does not represent a duplication of work.
We trust that the foregoing information clarifies the Maguire Group/Bovoni Landfill contract issue. As first stated above, the Waste Management Authority operates with the greatest degree of transparency, and will continue to do so even in the face of inaccurate reporting or negative editorials.
Editor’s note: May Adams Cornwall is VIWMA’s executive director.

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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