Long-delayed action fits EPA pattern of non-enforcement of judicial actions and orders on Puerto Rico landfills
(SAN JUAN, P.R. – April 25, 2017) – Puerto Rico Limpio today called the recent announcement of a settlement with the municipality and operator of Santa Isabel landfill “worthless” until it is actually enforced, something the EPA has failed to do in nearly every other such action for decades in Puerto Rico.
“We welcome this closure action on paper, but the EPA has rarely enforced them in Puerto Rico. A settlement is worthless until it’s enforced, and we’ll believe this one when we see it enforced,” said Hiram J. Torres Montalvo, co-founder of Puerto Rico Limpio.
“There is no reason to believe the Santa Isabel municipality will comply with the settlement since 19 out of 29 landfills operating today in Puerto Rico are not complying with EPA rules, orders or consent decrees,” Torres Montalvo added. “There were years of delay in the EPA taking this action, and only as a result of recent Congressional inquiry has the EPA begun to act. Unfortunately for the people of Santa Isabel, until this new settlement is enforced, the violations will continue, the dangers to the environment will be allowed, and no one will be held accountable. This is the pattern the EPA has followed in Puerto Rico for a decade.”
Torres Montalvo called on the U.S. Congress to look into all cases of unenforced settlements, consent decrees and administrative orders issued by the EPA against toxic landfills in Puerto Rico, and insisted that the administration of Governor Ricardo Rosselló and the new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, work together to undo the harm of the previous administrations’ negligence and move toward immediate enforcement of federal and local law against non-compliant landfills.
“It’s time to turn the page on failed policies and enforce the law in Puerto Rico immediately,” Torres Montalvo concluded. “Every closure order must be immediately enforced, and every toxic landfill’s gates must be locked today.”