Authorities stop flow of raw sewage into the ocean surrounding St. Croix January 21, 2004 By Mat Probasco, Associated Press
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands - A sewage spill that kept a cruise ship at bay, closed an area beach, and discolored turquoise waters has been corrected, officials said Tuesday.
Heavy rains last month damaged two of three sewage pumps at the Frederiksted sewage station, causing raw sewage to run into the harbor.
After weeks of work, the pumps have been fixed and the problem corrected, said Joseph Bradford, director of wastewater utilities. Dilapidated equipment and shipping problems over the holiday season were to blame for the delay, Bradford said.
The Radisson Diamond cruise ship planned to stop in St. Croix on Saturday but instead went to the British Virgin Islands because of the sewage problem, which temporarily shut down a Frederiksted beach.
Sewage was spilling into the sea at a rate of 50 gallons (190 liters) per minute at some points, Bradford said.
St. Croix has been struggling with its public waste management for more than a decade, with repeated mandates from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. District Court ordering repairs be undertaken.
Contamination has forced beaches to close, and sewage sometimes seeps through manholes in the island’s main towns.
A sewage station in Christiansted is still off-line, and as much as 1.3 million gallons (nearly 5 million liters) of sewage has been pumped into the harbor each day since early December, said Jim Casey of the EPA’s Virgin Islands office.
In August, the U.S. Caribbean territory missed an EPA deadline to secure a contract for upgrading sewage systems to comply with the 1972 Federal Clean Water Act.
The territory’s public works department, which has acknowledged the seriousness of sewage problems in St. Croix, is due to appear in federal court Thursday to show that they have plans to meet federal clean water guidelines. Source: Associated Press