ANTI-INCINERATOR ACTIVISTS CALL FOR TOXIC LANDFILLS TO REMAIN OPEN; MAKE FALSE CLAIMES ABOUT PUERTO RICO LIMPIO

(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – October 21, 2016) The co-founder of Puerto Rico Limpio, Hiram Torres Montalvo, issued the following statement in response to unfounded and misleading criticism yesterday from a group of activists that said that toxic landfills should remain open but acknowledged they are harming our communities:

“We are disappointed and surprised that people who call themselves environmental activists are abandoning the communities forced to live for decades next to toxic, non-compliant landfills that are violating nearly every federal safety rule. The Coalition of Anti-Incinerator Organizations admitted the toxic landfills are poisoning the environment, threatening communities and operating illegally, but want them to remain open. Instead of attacking Puerto Rico Limpio and defending the failed recycling and composting strategy of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these activists should be joining us in this fight to shut down toxic landfills.”

“Myrna Conty claims our effort to close down toxic landfills is really a secret plan to promote incineration. This is false, and she clearly has ignored Puerto Rico Limpio’s 4-point plan to close landfills that we outlined in our proposal to the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico on September 2, 2016. Our 4-point plan focuses on: 1) revoking the permitting authority of the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB); 2) closing toxic dumps immediately; 3) repurposing closed landfills for conversion to better uses, like clean, sustainable energy alternatives like solar and wind generation; and 4) adopting a plan for full compliance. These are ideas in line with successful efforts praised just last week by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and we stand by them completely.”

“The focus on recycling and composting is disingenuous. Recycling rates in Puerto Rico are less than 10% when the national average of 35%. Why is this? Because it is cheaper to illegally dump trash in non-compliant landfills where the per-ton tipping fee is much lower. If we closed these non-compliant landfills and trash was forced to be disposed of legally and safely, the costs of disposing recyclables would go up and a recycling market would flourish. This is basic economics. The only way to get recycling up to 34% in Puerto Rico is to destroy the illegal market for cheap, unsafe disposal of trash, and break the cycle of injustice that Ms. Conty keeps defending.”

“I don’t understand why environmental activists would attack us rather than stand with us. The United States has been moving to strict enforcement of federal rules and closing and repurposing landfills for decades now, but Puerto Rico is still trapped in the past. We will keep fighting to change that, and we will continue to fight for a safer, compliant and sustainable solid waste system in Puerto Rico.”

To read Puerto Rico Limpio’s submission to the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico (in English), visit: http://puertoricolimpio.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/PRLimpio-Submission-to-Task-Force.pdf