Letter to Resident Commissioner Pierluisi: Help Puerto Rico by Closing Toxic Landfills

Group Highlights EPA and EQB’s Pervasive Irresponsibility and Failures, Strongly Urges Pierluisi to Ask Congressional Task Force to Support Landfill Closures

(San Juan, Puerto Rico) – Puerto Rico Limpio appealed to outgoing Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi, following a recent meeting, to exercise his leadership to bring about closure of Puerto Rico’s toxic landfills because of the environmental and health repercussions they have created on the island, and for their violations of the EPA’s standards.

In the letter by Hiram Torres Montalvo, co-founder of Puerto Rico Limpio, to Resident Commissioner Pierluisi, the group noted the toxic landfills have caused irreparable damage to the Island’s water supply, contaminated the ground throughout the Island’s communities, polluted the air and led to the spread of the Zika virus.

“Put simply, the record of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the local Puerto Rican Environmental Quality Board (EQB) to address the health and environmental protection issues surrounding the operation of these non-compliant landfills is a colossal failure,” Torres Montalvo wrote to Pierluisi. “As you know from your former role as Attorney General, in 1994, Puerto Rico was authorized, under EPA supervision, to assume regulatory authority for the permitting and oversight of landfill operations.  Unfortunately and unquestionably, these and other plans have failed.”

Puerto Rico Limpio countered the recent allegations by the EPA and the EQB that they are currently underfunded to follow through with the closures and inspections of Puerto Rico’s toxic landfills.  Their letter highlighted that the Island’s non-compliant landfills have amassed $2.8 million in revenues from tipping fees, yet none if these funds have been used to close the landfills.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently recommended transitioning dirty landfills into solar power centers; Puerto Rico Limpio acknowledged this transition as a prudent solution to implement clean power generation and close Puerto Rico’s toxic landfills.  Puerto Rico Limpio urged Resident Commissioner Pierluisi to take this recommendation to the Congressional Task Force and ask the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Rural Utilities Service to support such a project for Puerto Rico’s non-compliant landfills.

“The EPA and EQB have gotten away with environmental injustice on our island for far too long.  Puerto Rico’s landfill situation doesn’t have to be the next Flint.  Resident Commissioner Pierlusi, we respectfully request your assistance, as you agreed, in ending the imminent threat to public health and the environment and closing these toxic landfills,” Montalvo closed.

Please click here to read the letter from Puerto Rico Limpio co-founder Hiram Torres Montalvo to Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi.

Recently, Puerto Rico Limpio released a report, “The Poisoning of Puerto Rico,” which disclosed internal EPA documents proving that the Agency has known for over a decade that the majority of Puerto Rico’s municipal landfills are operating in violation of nearly all federal rules and pose an “imminent threat to human health and the environment,” something the EPA knew for over a decade.

To read the full report, “The Poisoning of Puerto Rico”, and see the internal EPA documents obtained for the report, visit: www.puertoricolimpio.org/the-poisoning-of-puerto-rico/?lang=en

To see a map of Puerto Rico’s toxic landfills that are still in operation, visit: http://puertoricolimpio.org

To learn more about Puerto Rico Limpio, its mission and important information about dangerous, non-compliant landfills, go to: PuertoRicoLimpio.org, Puerto Rico Limpio on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter: @PRLimpioOrg.