Puerto Rico SWMA takes steps to close non-compliant landfills
Major progress has been made over the past few years
in improving the way solid waste is managed in Puerto
Rico, according to United States Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator, Alan J. Steinberg.
Steinberg spoke about several solid waste achievements
at a ceremony at the Yolanda Guerrero Cultural Center.
The Agency praised the Puerto Rico Solid Waste Management
Authority (SWMA) for developing a plan to handle municipal
garbage throughout the island and announced it has secured
an agreement with the municipality of Toa Baja to close
EPA, the municipality of Toa Baja, P.R., and Landfill
Technologies, Inc., have agreed in principle to an administrative
order on consent that outlines a plan to stop receiving
waste at the main part of the Toa Baja landfill by June
2010, with steps to close the landfill completely to
follow. This is the fifth order issued by EPA requiring
a landfill in Puerto Rico to close since 2007; the other
landfills are in Vega Baja, Florida, Aguadilla and Santa
“I’m gratified that an agreement has been reached to
close the Toa Baja landfill in an orderly and environmentally
protective way,” said Steinberg. “Closing landfills that
do not meet environmental standards in Puerto Rico has
been an EPA priority and we have received invaluable
support from the Puerto Rico Solid Waste Management Authority
on this goal.”
The SWMA plan to handle solid waste, the Dynamic Itinerary
for Infrastructure Projects, outlines priorities for
managing waste in the Commonwealth, which has long been
a challenge for its government.
The 105-acre Toa Baja landfill was created in 1994 when
landfills operated by the municipalities of Toa Baja
and Bayamón merged. Toa Baja has owned the landfill since
2005, and Landfill Technologies, Inc., manages the landfill.
SWMA estimated that in 2003 the Toa Baja landfill accepted
approximately 500,000 tons of waste, mostly household
and commercial solid waste.
Ongoing inspections of the landfill found it lacking
operating controls, sufficient security, leachate and
stormwater discharge controls, and groundwater and explosive
gas monitoring systems. The landfill also lacked a landfill
gas control and collection system.
The agreement to close the landfill is governed by the
Solid Waste Disposal Act as amended by the Resource Conservation
and Recovery Act, or RCRA.