Seilhamer Demands Prepa Amend Contract on Ash Dumping
SAN JUAN – Following a federal court decision validating municipal ordinances prohibiting the disposal of ash, Larry Seilhamer, spokesman for the New Progressive Party (NPP) in the Senate, demanded that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) amend its contract with Applied Energy Systems (AES) and halt its disposal of ash byproduct on the island.
The senator said Prepa and AES signed “an agreement behind closed doors to allow millions of tons of ash to be disposed of in Puerto Rico, contrary to the original agreement between the parties that established that the deposits be made off the island.
“The agreement signed in 1994 stated that the ash produced by AES would be deposited outside of Puerto Rico. However, this agreement was amended behind people’s backs, allowing the company to deposit ash on the island. This produced an economic benefit to AES, but the savings were not transferred to Prepa, much less the people,” the senator said.
He added that “[Prepa] must require AES to clean the entire Humacao and Peñuelas area where ash residue remains.”
The Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI by its Spanish initials) reported that during an interview with Judith Enck, Region 2 Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), she acknowledged the ash deposits.
In 2014 and 2015, “more than 350 million tons of AES ashes were illegally dumped at the Humacao landfill, as well as another 7,000 tons dumped in the Peñuelas landfill, as admitted by the Environmental Quality Board (EQB),” the CPI wrote.
In addition, “since AES started producing electricity more than a decade ago, undetermined quantities of waste have ended up in residential and commercial areas on the island, exposing the soil, bodies of water, and human beings to polluted toxic material,” the report continues.
Seilhamer has already asked for an investigation to be conducted by the Justice Department, and the Comptroller’s and Government Ethics offices into why the agreement was not amended so the savings obtained in transporting the ash by AES be transferred to PREPA, according to the senator’s release Tuesday.
“Prepa has been grossly negligent in failing to ensure the interests of the people. AES has benefited financially during the past months and Prepa has remained silent at a time when people have had their electric bill raised due to the power authority’s economic crisis,” he said.
He concluded his statement demanding that Prepa Executive Director Javier Quintana “amend the contract with AES and immediately ban the ash deposits. And explain why the savings obtained by the private company were not transferred either to the authority or the people.”
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