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HomeNewsLocal governmentMerritt Updates Senators on Bovoni Landfill Fire and WMA

Merritt Updates Senators on Bovoni Landfill Fire and WMA

Waste Management Executive Director Roger Merritt told senators Tuesday that there were no more visible flames at the Bovoni landfill after a fire that started Sept. 14. (Photo by Alvin Burke Jr. and Barry Leerdam, Legislature of the Virgin Islands)

On Tuesday, Roger Merritt, executive director of the Waste Management Authority, gave an extensive report on the authority’s effort to bring about recycling, prevent future landfill fires, pay past due bills, and comply with a federal consent decree.

But Sens. Marise James and Diane Capehart said they had heard it all before. James said when she read Merritt’s submitted testimony, she felt “I have read this before.” She said she wanted to see updates, not the same old reports. Capehart said she wanted to see timelines.

The written testimony submitted to the Committee on Housing, Transportation, and Telecommunications had similarities to Merritt’s testimony submitted to a Senate budget hearing in August. He again hammered the point that he believes the authority needs $50 million to cover its annual operation costs, not the $35 million the Senate has appropriated for it.

Executive directors of the authority have complained that the authority has been underfunded since its inception in 2005.

Capehart took exception to Merritt calling the Bovoni and Anguilla sites “landfills.” She said they were “dumps.”

Merritt said Capehart was correct that the areas did not fulfill all the criteria of landfills but they “were in transition to become landfills.”

Merritt did have new information concerning the proposed $18 million Convenience Centers Project. The authority is preparing to eliminate the majority of the public unmanned bin sites by constructing and operating seven additional convenience centers throughout the territory, like the Mandahl and Peter’s Rest convenience centers located on St. Thomas and St. Croix, respectively. Merritt said work on the projects could be set in motion next month. He added that the authority is no longer looking to lease the Bournefield site from the Housing Authority. Instead, it is looking to purchase the site.

Merritt said he has met with the Water and Power Authority with the aim of getting a fire hydrant near the Bovoni landfill, where green waste has been burning since Sept. 14.

Capehart said the authority had to do a better job because Bovoni residents should not have to breathe the smoke and smell the air coming from the dump.

“We need more money so we can be proactive,” said Merritt.

Sen. Samuel Carriόn asked why there was such a delay in paying vendors. Merritt said that though the Senate had appropriated funds to pay vendors, the authority had not yet received the cash.

Merritt said the authority was working on systems where green waste could be turned into compost to be used by farmers.

Senators at the hearing included Marvin Blyden, Marise James, Angel Bolques Jr., Samuel Carriόn, Ray Fonseca, Capehart, Milton Potter, Dwayne DeGraff, Novelle Francis Jr., Kenneth Gittens, and Carla Joseph.

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