EPA orders fix to STX sewer line leaking hydrogen sulfide

EPA officials learned first-hand about the economic and operational challenges of the Anguilla sewage treatment plant and landfill on St. Croix. (photo EPA)

The VI Waste Management Authority has entered into a consent agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to combat hydrogen sulfide odors in a sewer line at the Anguilla wastewater treatment plant in St. Croix.

The EPA detected the problem while on the island in May to monitor air quality issues at the Limetree Bay refinery unrelated to the Waste Management Authority, the agency said in A press release.

As part of this air monitoring effort, the EPA has detected emissions of hydrogen sulfide from manhole covers in a sewer pipe running through Renaissance Park on St. Croix and Melvin. H. Evans Highway along the Anguilla sewer pipe, ”the EPA said. “Anguilla’s sewer pipe and manhole covers are components of… Anguilla’s sanitary sewer system. Hydrogen sulfide is produced when bacteria grow under the water line in any sewer pipe. In addition, sediment and debris deposited at the bottom of a sewer pipe contributes to the formation of hydrogen sulfide.

The consent order, which includes an action plan, will improve the operation and management of the sewer line by Waste Management, which will improve the way wastewater flows through the pipe and may reduce odors of hydrogen sulfide, the EPA said.

“This voluntary compliance and consent agreement is the result of the EPA and the Virgin Islands government coordinating to address sewage contamination in the environmental justice communities of St. Croix already disproportionately affected by the issues. Said Walter Mugdan, EPA Region 2 Acting Regional Administrator. “The government of the Virgin Islands is committed to complying with environmental standards in order to prevent and combat pollution caused by faults in this sewage system.

The Waste Management Authority owns and operates the Harold Thompson Sewage and Sanitary Treatment System, also known as the Anguilla Wastewater Treatment Plant, in St. Croix, and is responsible for the maintaining the sewer lines that carry wastewater to the plant, the EPA said. Sanitary sewer systems are designed to collect wastewater from homes and other buildings and transfer it to the treatment plant, the agency said.

Veolia wastewater treatment plant in Saint-Thomas.  (Photo from Veolia website)
Wastewater treatment like that of this Saint-Thomas plant has been the subject of an authorization decree in the US Virgin Islands since 1984. (Image from the Veolia website)

The Waste Management Authority, created in 2004, operates under a federal consent decree that predates its creation as an agency by 20 years. The United States filed a lawsuit against the Virgin Islands government in 1984, alleging violations of the Clean Water Act.

Since then, the authority has experienced sporadic failures of its wastewater treatment plants, including in July 2020, when the EPA issued a notice of violation regarding issues at the Anguilla plant that prevented the appropriate treatment of raw sewage.

The EPA, waste management and the Ministry of Planning and Natural Resources have coordinated to determine steps to improve maintenance of the Anguilla sewer pipeline, the agency said in its release. press Thursday. The consent order requires the authority to submit a detailed corrective action plan, conduct a comprehensive study of the sewer line, and report the results to the EPA.

“This consent order does not affect the work of the EPA at Limetree Bay Terminals, LLC or Limetree Bay Refining LLC,” the agency said in the press release.

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