“Secret Landfill” in Toa Baja is just the beginning

(SAN JUAN, P.R. – December 7, 2016) – The newspaper exposé in El Vocero  documented a “secret” landfill in Toa Baja that authorities – both locally and federally – have ignored. Unfortunately, what was uncovered in Toa Baja is just part of the scourge of toxic landfills that dot Puerto Rico.

“On top of Toa Baja’s financial crisis, the discovery of their secret dump is alarming,” said Hiram Torres Montalvo, co-founder of Puerto Rico Limpio. “Where was the EQB?  Where was the EPA? And now where is Senator Eduardo Bhatia and Senator Maria de Lourdes? Or even Carmen Yulin? Last week they were eager the support the radical movement against the ashes in Peñuelas, but today are nowhere to be found to help Toa Baja.”

The scourge of 20 toxic landfills will take new leadership to solve.  Puerto Rico has the opportunity to do this under Governor-elect Ricardo Rossello, Mayor-elect Bernardo “Betito” Márquez and the new incoming federal EPA leadership under President-elect Trump.  To date, the leadership of Gina McCarthy and Judith Enck has failed.  They’ve turned a blind eye, and local authorities have failed their oath to uphold the rule of law, Torres Montalvo noted.

“Why have the local authorities allowed powerful interests to dump trash without legal consequence? This secret dump site should have been shut down long ago,” added Torres Montalvo.

The discovery of the secret toxic landfill in Toa Baja is a clear vindication for Puerto Rico Limpio’s campaign calling for closure of all toxic landfills.  In October, Puerto Rico Limpio and Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez toured the nearby non-compliant Toa Baja municipal landfill where they witnessed firsthand the contamination taking place there, and heard from community residents’ loud pleas for EPA and EQB action.  What took place there in the hours before the Congressman’s arrival is alarming: a large toxic pond – of toxic leachate – was dredged.

Local leaders’ questioning the EPA and EQB’s lax management underscores what Puerto Rico Limpio has been saying all along, and embrace Puerto Rico Limpio’s 4-point plan to address the landfill crisis: 1) revoke the permitting authority of the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB); 2) close toxic dumps immediately; 3) repurpose closed landfills for conversion to better uses, like clean, sustainable energy alternatives like solar and wind generation; and 4) adopt a plan for full compliance.