15 October 2016

Environmentalists charges U.S. mismanagement in landfull closings in Puerto Rico


Acción ciudadana para vertederos seguros

An Investigation by Puerto Rico Limpio

Following months of on-the ground investigations, community meetings and the release of documents from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Puerto Rico Limpio can conclusively demonstrate that the landfill crisis in Puerto Rico is the product of gross mismanagement by the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) and dereliction of duty by the EPA.

The EQB has never been minimally effective in enforcing federal standards since it was approved for this role by the EPA in 1994. And EPA knew.

Newly obtained documents show that shortly after EQB was granted enforcement power, it gutted local landfills rules without notifying the EPA.

The EPA learned of the secret rule changes in 2005 but failed to take effective action to restore federal standards in Puerto Rico’s regulations.

Soon after Judith Enck took over as Regional Administrator of EPA Region 2, she pulled back on pressuring senior Puerto Rican authorities to act on senior staff’s repeated and urgent warnings about threats to human health and the environment. Since 2009, Enck limited her response to mostly ineffective closure actions against less than half of the landfills her staff has documented as unsafe. Only one landfill has closed during her tenure.