POLITICALLY MOTIVATED PROTESTS DISTRACT FROM REAL THREAT OF TOXIC LANDFILLS

“Where were these activists when I needed them in Toa Alta?” asks neighbor of toxic municipal landfill that remains open today

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(SAN JUAN, P.R. – November 29, 2016)  The recent protests by the Puerto Rican Independence Party and supporters like Carmen Yulin against the disposal of coal ash is a distraction from the proven scourge of 20 toxic landfills endangering poor communities all over Puerto Rico.  To the citizens in Puerto Rico Limpio, who have fought against non-compliant landfills poisoning their communities for years, these political leaders and their movements have turned a blind eye to their suffering.

“The actions of Maria de Lourdes Santiago and Carmen Yulin have distracted and undermined efforts to close as many as 20 toxic, illegal landfills that have violated Puerto Rican and federal law for decades,” said Hiram Torres Montalvo, co-founder of Puerto Rico Limpio.  “These protests are entirely political, and have nothing to do with saving the environment or cleaning up our communities.”

Recently, Puerto Rico Limpio outlined a 4-point plan to close the toxic landfills in a letter to the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico on September 2, 2016. Puerto Rico Limpio’s 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. Unfortunately, neither Maria de Lourdes Santiago and Carmen Yulin or their pro-Independence supporters have supported our efforts.

“I have watched everyone in our neighborhood abandon their houses as the toxic landfill got bigger and the contamination got worse,” said Concetta “Connie” Calise Cintron, resident of Toa Alta.  “Where were these activists when I needed them here?  The Toa Alta landfill is still open this morning and not one of them has ever been here to help us.”

“How can so many politicians in Puerto Rico waste their time and energy protesting when my family and our community can hardly live by the polluted landfill at Toa Baja?” decried Candelaria, Toa Baja resident Adelaida Gonzalez who recently hosted US Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) for a community meeting seeking attention for Puerto Rico’s toxic landfill crisis.  “Maria de Lourdes and Carmen Yulin do not represent poor communities like Candelaria; they represent themselves.”

“I have been fighting the government for years to close Toa Alta landfill, but there is so much corruption and politicians here have just ignored us,” said Calise Cintron.  “I pray Ricardo Rossello closes these landfills where real pollution is happening.”