Aguadilla Agrees to Close its Municipal Landfill
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced recently that the Municipality of Aguadilla in Puerto Rico and Landfill Technologies, the landfill operator, have signed an Order on Consent with EPA which requires the town and landfill operator to stop receiving waste at the landfill by early August, to permanently close the landfill by April 2010, and to conduct post-closure monitoring and maintenance of the landfill.
“This municipality has really stepped up to the plate by agreeing to do the right thing for its community and for the environment,” said Alan J.
Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA recently announced similar agreements with the municipalities of Florida and Vega Baja to close their landfills. I am hopeful that this is the start of a commitment to proper management of solid waste across the Island. At present, many landfills in Puerto Rico are so poorly run that closure is needed to protect the health of the surrounding communities. Along with correcting the landfill problem in Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth also needs to promote reduction of waste, recycling and waste-to-energy plants.”
In October 2006, EPA proposed that the Aguadilla landfill close because, after being operated in an unsafe manner over a long period of time, it poses a potential threat to drinking water sources (both ground water and surface water), adjacent land, and ecologically sensitive Karst Terrain in which it is located.
Under the Order on Consent, the Municipality of Aguadilla and the landfill operator, Landfill Technologies of Aguadilla Corp., have agreed to stop taking waste at the landfill, to put protective measures into place to control pollution from the landfill, such as systems to collect and treat liquid seepage, to complete final closure by the spring of 2010, and to monitor and maintain the closed landfill into the future.
Prior to signing this agreement with the Municipality, EPA held a public meeting in Aguadilla to hear what people had to say about the Agency’s plans to close its existing landfill. In general, the community favored closing the landfill and expressed concerns about contaminants that might be leaking from it.
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This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2007 issue of Environmental Protection.