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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Reaches Legal Agreement to Close Landfill in Puerto Rico

Municipality of Santa Isabel Must Complete Final Closure of Landfill by July 2019

04/24/2017
Contact Information: 
Brenda Reyes (reyes.brenda@epa.gov)
(787) 977-5869
David Kluesner (kluesner.dave@epa.gov)
(212) 637-3653

(San Juan, Puerto Rico) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with the Municipality of Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico to complete final closure of its municipal solid waste landfill by July 2019, implement environmental protection controls following closure, implement a recycling program, and pilot a composting program. The Municipality is no longer receiving waste at the Santa Isabel landfill.

“The EPA is continuing to assess landfills throughout Puerto Rico that have reached or exceeded capacity and created conditions that threaten public health and the environment,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Catherine McCabe. "It is imperative that owners and operators of landfills in Puerto Rico live up to their responsibilities to operate and close these landfills properly in order to protect the health of nearby communities.”

Under the proposed judicial settlement, the Municipality of Santa Isabel agrees to pay a civil penalty of $20,000, with interest, and to comply with terms of the Consent Decree. In addition to completing final closure of the landfill by July 2019, the Municipality of Santa Isabel must also:

  • maintain an interim cover over the landfill to help control odors and blowing debris
  • ensure adequate fencing and security at the landfill
  • install and operate a groundwater monitoring system to be approved by EPA
  • implement a recycling program to help minimize the volume of waste materials in Puerto Rico landfills
  • implement a pilot composting plan to minimize disposal of food waste in Puerto Rico landfills
  • perform community outreach to inform the public about recycling; and
  • implement a mosquito control plan at the Landfill to help fight the Zika virus.

The closure and post closure care of the landfill must be performed in accordance with an EPA-approved closure and post-closure plan. Failure to comply with the terms of the proposed Consent Decree subjects the Municipality to stipulated penalties.

The settlement, which is subject to a 30-day public comment period, is conditioned upon approval by the United States District Court before becoming final. Comments on the proposed settlement must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice no later than May 22, 2017. The Complaint, Proposed Consent Decree and Federal Register Notice, which contains information on how to submit comments, can be viewed at https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decree/us-v-municipality-santa-isabel.  

For more information on Puerto Rico Consent Orders and Consent Decrees, visit the EPA website on EPA in Puerto Rico at https://www.epa.gov/pr/puerto-rico-landfill-consent-orders-and-consent-decrees.

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