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Enforcement

Case Summary: RCRA Settlement will Result in Improvements to Moca, Puerto Rico Landfill Operations

On September 26, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached a settlement agreement, an administrative order on consent (AOC), under section 7003 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) with the Municipality of Moca, P.R. and Moca ECO-Park Corporation that will result in improvements to the municipal solid waste landfill in Moca, P.R. In addition to improving landfill operations, the respondents will expand their municipal recycling program, create a composting program, protect a sensitive ecosystem, and plan for the future closure of the landfill. The total project costs are expected to be around $10 million.

On this page:

“This legal agreement will improve the operation of the landfill, improve recycling and for the first time establish a comprehensive composting program,". I applaud this community for investing in a more environmentally protective approach to solid waste management.” EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck

Information about the Settling Parties

The Municipality of Moca is the owner and past operator of the landfill and Moca ECO-Park Corporation has been the operator of the landfill since February 2011.

Information about the Moca Municipal Solid Waste Landfill

The Moca Municipal Solid Waste Landfill is located in northwestern Puerto Rico and consists of approximately 85 acres. Fifty-two acres are being used for solid waste disposal. The landfill is sited within the environmentally-sensitive, northern karst belt and has received municipal solid waste since at least 1976.

The majority of the waste deposited in the landfill consists of household solid waste, and the landfill also receives some commercial solid waste and construction and demolition debris. EPA determined that the facility lacked proper operational controls including adequate run-on and run-off controls, a leachate collection system, operational groundwater and methane monitoring systems and adequate access control. In addition, the landfill had steep and potentially unstable slopes.

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Summary of the Administrative Order on Consent

As part of the agreement, the municipality and Moca ECO-Park Corporation will make improvements to the landfill which include:

  • stopping operations in parts of the landfill,
  • improving storm water management,
  • reducing dust, monitoring ground water, and
  • installing a landfill gas control system.

The municipality and corporation also agreed not to expand the landfill into the adjacent karst forest and to maintain a buffer zone where no more waste may be placed between active parts of the landfill and sensitive areas, including the karst forest. The karst region contains the richest biodiversity in Puerto Rico, with over 1,300 species of plants and animals, many of which are known to exist only in this area. Also, the existing recycling program will be expanded and improved to create a composting program and to develop an educational and outreach program.

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Anticipated environmental benefits

The AOC-mandated operation and eventual closure of the Moca Landfill is expected to generate significant and quantifiable environmental benefits. Some 56 million gallons per year of stormwater will be properly managed during the life of the order. Proper closure of the landfill will prevent some 500 million pounds per year of contaminated leachate from being released into the environment. Other environmental benefits of the AOC include collection and treatment of landfill gas emissions including methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and increased protection of Federal endangered species.

Comment period

The AOC was subject to public comment before issuance. EPA addressed address comments that were received during the comment period by including dust control requirements and provisions to make information about the Moca landfill publicly available in the AOC.

Contact information

For more information contact

Carl Plössl
Environmental Engineer
Moca Landfill Project Coordinator
Region 2
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

290 Broadway
New York NY 10007-1866
212-637-4088
plossl.carl@epa.gov

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