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News Releases from HeadquartersLand and Emergency Management (OLEM)

EPA Hurricane Maria Update for Tuesday, November 14

EPA Oversees Collection of Household Materials in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

11/14/2017
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (November 14, 2017) – The U.S Environmental Protection Agency is working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands governments, local governments and residents to keep hazardous materials out of the environment and minimize the amount of waste going to landfills.

EPA is assisting the governments of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as local governments, in the collection of household hazardous waste, electronic waste, and displaced “orphan” containers, which include drums, tanks, canisters and cylinders that were displaced by the hurricane and were found floating in or washed up near waterways. In Puerto Rico, nearly 6,000 drums, propane tanks, cylinders and other containers have been collected and diverted from landfills. In the USVI, approximately 3,500 containers have been collected to date.

EPA household hazardous waste collection point, U.S. Virgin Islands

EPA household hazardous waste collection point at
Evelyn Williams Elementary School in St. Croix, USVI. Photo courtesy of the U.S. EPA.

Household hazardous waste includes aerosol cans, household cleaners and chemicals, paint, and electronic items such as computers and televisions. Household hazardous materials also include batteries, which have become a major concern due to the large volume of batteries being used by residents who are without power. Household hazardous waste should not be thrown out with regular trash as s it can contaminate the land, waterways, and groundwater.

Puerto Rico- Household Hazardous Waste

In many parts of Puerto Rico, household hazardous materials are being collected at the curb or along the side of the road. Residents are encouraged to separate household hazardous waste from their regular trash and place them near a sidewalk or roadside in front of their property. Care should be taken to avoid blocking storm drains. Labels should be left on bottles or containers. Chemicals and liquids should not be combined or mixed with other chemicals or liquids.   

In some municipalities in Puerto Rico, there are collection locations for household hazardous waste, where residents should drop off their hazardous materials. For more information on specific collection locations resident should call their municipal government.

U.S. Virgin Islands Household Hazardous Waste

In the U.S. Virgin Islands EPA personnel have evaluated and identified collection pad locations for household hazardous waste. Residents should drop off their household hazardous waste at the collection pad location closest to them.

For more information on specific household hazardous waste collection locations please see the following fact sheets:

  • St. Croix Household Hazardous Waste Collection
    • Location: Evelyn Williams Elementary School, St. Croix
    • Days of Operation: 7 days a week
    • Hours of Operation: 8:00am-5:00pm
  • St. John Household Hazardous Waste Collection
    • Locations: Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center
    • Days of Operation: 7 days a week
    • Hours of Operation: 7:30am-4:00pm Monday-Saturday and 10am-3:00pm Sunday
  • St. Thomas Household Hazardous Waste Collection
    • Locations: Addelita Cancryn Jr. High School; Lima (Gasworks) and Bovoni Landfill
    • Days of Operation: Monday- Saturday
    • Hours of Operation: 7:30am-4:00pm
       

Community Involvement Coordinators, hazardous waste collection point, Puerto RicoCommunity Involvement Coordinators, hazardous waste collection point, northern Puerto Rico

Community Involvement Coordinators working at a hazardous waste collection area in northern Puerto Rico.  Photo courtesy of the U.S. EPA.

EPA Community Involvement Coordinators and On Scene Coordinators have teamed up with Puerto Rico and USVI government officials to identify and secure access to household hazardous waste collection points and provide information to residents on how to segregate and dispose of household hazardous materials. Public service announcements on truck-mounted speakers and radio, flyers, newspapers, social media and other communication tools are being used to disseminate information. EPA and its local government partners are identifying on-the-ground needs and concerns that may influence overall operations of the response.

Hazardous waste collection program, Puerto Rico

EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Valerie Carrasquillo discusses EPA’s household hazardous waste collection program in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Photo courtesy of U.S. EPA.

For questions about EPA’s household hazardous waste collection program in Puerto Rico and the USVI, the public can call EPA toll free at 888-283-7626.

For more information and photos, visit EPA’s Hurricane Maria website and Hurricane Maria story map.