Waste Management Authority officials said they would be “cracking down” on a territorywide “crisis” that is leading to clogged wastewater and sewer lines and costing taxpayers up to $500,000 a year: The illegal dumping of used cooking and motor oil.
Gathered at the bin site in Estate Concordia on St. Croix, WMA officials on Tuesday said that they, contractor AdCon and work crews from the Bureau of Corrections recently participated in a cleanup that rid the area of 6,000 gallons of used cooking and motor oil dumped by local businesses. The bin site is for residential use only and moving forward any businesses caught dumping will be fined as much as $1,000 or face jail time of up to 10 days, according to WMA spokeswoman Melody Rames.
Rames made it clear that businesses looking to remove used cooking or motor oil should contract a permitted waste hauler. To stave off future dumping, she said WMA will make inspections and also work with restaurants, food trucks and other food-based businesses to install onsite grease traps or interceptors. Fines also will be levied for accidental discharge, she said. WMA will come out “in force” first to inform businesses of the law and proper dumping procedures before levying fines, officials added.
“Along with being a public health hazard, cooking oil leads to large wastewater line clogs, resulting in blocked lines and sewer spills throughout the territory,” Rames said.
Along with St. Croix, the Nadir pump station on St. Thomas is experiencing issues and Water Island “also has a serious problem,” she said.
Along with policing local businesses, Rames also gave tips for homeowners who, by dumping used cooking oil down the drain, contribute to clogs.
Oil should be cooled, poured into old milk cartons or water jugs, then thrown into the garbage, and cooking grease should not be put down the sink, she said. Pots with grease should be wiped clean before being put in the dishwasher, and paper towels or rags put into a bag and thrown away. Meanwhile, fat trimmings should also be put in the trash, Rames said.
From residents, WMA will only accept up to three gallons of oil at a time.
Speaking later, St. Croix Administrator Sammuel Sanes said this initiative has been in the works for two to three months and will continue moving forward.