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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Humacao residents worry about coal ash deposits in landfill

Municipal Landfill in Humacao.

By The Star Staff

House Health Committee Chairwoman Sol Higgins Cuadrado conducted an on-site hearing on the municipal landfill in the Buena Vista neighborhood of Humacao to investigate community allegations that management is inadequately storing ash from AES in Guayama.

The hearing is part of an ongoing legislative investigation into the problems caused by the coal ash deposits that began last year. According to Higgins Cuadrado, communities have demanded that she investigate if there is a correlation between the health conditions that multiple residents have experienced and the deposit of the ashes.

During a tour of the warehouse managed by the company EC Waste and, which included the participation of residents and community leaders of the Buena Vista neighborhood, officials from the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA) showed up.

Ashes in the landfill have several 12-inch thick layers from where they were buried to the surface, according to information provided at the hearing.

According to EC Waste, the ashes have not been removed from the landfill for use in construction.

Over the past few years, the deposit has received 677,439.22 tons of ash from September 2014 to April 2016. Between 2004 and 2011, the company used more than two million tons of coal ash on the island.

‘’This problem is one that we have to address with the responsibility it deserves and continue looking for the necessary alternatives to provide and guarantee good quality to the residents, affected communities, and all citizens of my District 35,’’ said the representative for the municipalities of Humacao, Naguabo and Las Piedras.

“For us, it is important to provide these spaces to the communities and include them in each process so that they can raise their voices, clarify their doubts, and participate first-hand about a situation that worries them so much,” she added.

For the first time, residents of the Buena Vista neighborhood had the opportunity to visit the Municipal Landfill, ask questions, and see where the ashes are deposited.

Representative Mariana Nogales Molinelli, Lydia Méndez Silva, Ángel Bulerín Ramos, and Luis “Junior” Pérez Ortiz also attended the on-site hearing.

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