Governor signs measure to deal with algae on island’s coasts
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi
By THE STAR STAFF
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia signed several legislative measures into law on Wednesday, among them House Joint Resolution 229, approved unanimously, which orders the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) to develop and execute a mitigation plan that addresses sargassum algae on the island’s coasts.
As established in the law, the mitigation plan must include, without being limited to, concrete solutions to address the sargassum issue (including those executed by the private sector), an implementation schedule, and identify the necessary funds to execute it. To this end, the DNER reported that the Auxiliary Secretariat for National Parks is in the bidding process to purchase, with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, six specialized tractors, six machines for the industrial processing of sargassum and a mechanized rake that attaches to a tractor. The equipment has the ability to collect sargassum while returning clean sand to the beach.
“This measure is consistent with the actions that we are taking in my Administration to direct our environmental public policy,” the governor said in a written statement. “I have used federal and state funds to address issues such as the accumulation of discarded used tires, as well as for the treatment and conservation of corals, the restoration of beach dunes, the planting of trees and the closure of noncompliant landfills, among other initiatives. Additionally, as a Government we are addressing climate change and protecting our resources by ushering in the first Ranger Academy in over 20 years. I will continue promoting specific actions that result in the conservation of our environment and the cleanliness of our coasts and beaches.”
According to the legislation’s preamble, a few years ago the accumulation of sargassum in the central-western Atlantic and the Caribbean exceeded previous records. In turn, the large-scale growth of the algae has affected the flow of oxygen on the sea surface, causing strong odors and emitting hydrogen sulfide (H2S) as a result of its decomposition.