Unenforced Orders, Worthless Consent Decrees and No Fines for Lawbreakers
(SAN JUAN, P.R. – April 27, 2017) Puerto Rico Limpio released a new report today after a painstaking investigation of EPA documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which belie the Agency’s public claims of great progress towards closing 12 toxic, non-compliant municipal landfills in Puerto Rico. The report reveals that, in fact, the EPA has known that 19 out of the island’s 29 landfills are illegal open dumps, and continue to operate despite openly violating federal law.
“The report reveals yet more evidence of criminal neglect by the EPA,” said Hiram J. Torres Montalvo, co-founder of Puerto Rico Limpio. “Recent actions in Toa Alta and Santa Isabel are simply an elaborate cover-up by the EPA to hide 8 years of bureaucratic ineptness and criminal negligence.”
The new report, entitled “How the EPA Continues to Poison Puerto Rico”, had a number of key findings based on EPA documents and other evidence posted online with the report today:
- No evidence was found that any of the still-open landfills “facing action” or consent decrees have been brought into compliance over the last decade. In fact, all of them continue to break federal laws and continue to pose an imminent threat to the environment and to the public.
- A letter in 2011 from the Obama Administration to the EQB under Governor Luis Fortuño warned against being too hasty in closing toxic landfills, making lighter enforcement a policy of the EPA.
- In the list of 12 landfills “under EPA action,” the EPA was found to have systematically failed to follow through, letting deadlines pass repeatedly, allowing operators to ignore benchmarks and endlessly postpone even minimal improvements.
- The EPA knew of the environmental harm and persistent threat for years even while issuing consent decrees and administrative orders, and never immediately suspended operations at any landfill despite the danger. The most recent example was the administrative order issued against Toa Alta landfill on April 11 of this year, which detailed extreme violations of RCRA and multiple iterations of the “imminent endangerment to human health and the environment” but allowed the landfill to continue receiving and dumping waste in unlined cells through the end of the year.
“Recent comments by certain individuals claiming they do not have the regulatory authority to close, that a lock won’t work, a transfer station cannot be built or the fiscal situation prevents closure, is simply perpetuating an environmental crime against their fellow citizens,” said Torres Montalvo.
To read “How the EPA Continues to Poison Puerto Rico”, visit: http://puertoricolimpio.org/how-the-epa-continues-to-poison-puerto-rico/?lang=en