With no barges able to carry large trucks, solid waste has been piling up across St. John. The dumpster in Estate Adrian, above, was overflowing on Friday, July 22, 2016, afternoon with no relief in sight until next week. Workers
St. John Tradewinds photos by Jacob “Pepper” Pepper & Judi Shimel.
After two days of restricted barge service last week, dumpsters along Centerline Road on St. John spilled onto the ground and piled up.
Mounting piles of household waste along the public roadways became the latest symbol of transportation troubles that have plagued the island’s barge transportation since June.
Because the island’s landfill has been closed for several years, St. John trash is barged to St. Thomas and trucked to the Bovoni Landfill. But damage to the barge Island Vic sidelined the one vessel approved by the U.S. Coast Guard to transport trucks between the two islands.
Island Vic, one of two vessels operated by Love City Car Ferries, was approved for use at the end of June when the General II, owned by Global Marine, went to dry dock and onto its annual Coast Guard inspection. The other Love City barge, Captain Vic, overcame a number of problems cited in its Coast Guard inspection but its ramp was approved to move only cars, small vans and pick up trucks.
Operators at Love City said heavy silt at the Red Hook port damaged the Island Vic’s propeller and engine. Barge owner Lew Sewer said the barge’s propeller plowed into silt while backing away from the Red Hook bulkhead. The vessel’s engine was damaged as well. That left operators of delivery trucks, construction trucks, fuel trucks and trash haulers without the means to reach to St. John.
As a result, dumpsters dotting the landscape are full to overflowing. Jose Penn, manager of Penn Trucking, the company responsible for trash hauling, declined comment on the garbage pileup, referring a reporter to the Waste Management Authority and the office of the island administrator.
An engineer for the Port Authority said Red Hook had never been dredged in the 10 years the agency oversaw operations at the Red Hook barge dock. Port Authority Director Carlton Dowe said the authority got approval for dredging from Coastal Zone Management Tuesday.
But VIPA Operations Director Dale Gregory said dredging still cannot begin until the Army Corps of Engineers grants permission as well. That process could take more than a month, Gregory said.
Officials hope to have a better sense of how quickly that step can be taken in a few days, Gregory added.
An assistant to St. John Administrator Camille Paris Jr. said the administrator is trying to address the need to ship trash off island with the Coast Guard.
Attempts to reach the Waste Management Authority for comment were unsuccessful.
Sewer said a new engine has been ordered for Island Vic and should arrive on island next week. The Love City Car Ferries owner said he did not blame the Coast Guard for taking his vessel off the run temporarily.