Illegally-dumped cooking oils and grease already are threatening the new wastewater pumping station in Cruz Bay.
Only months after completion, the new sewage pump station located in the parking lot next to the customs dock is in danger of breaking down.
The culprit is FOGS. Not “fogs” – in the sense of condensed watery vapor that hovers low to the ground. In Waste Management lingo, FOGS stands for “Fats, Oils, and Greases,” the waste products of food preparations (like deep frying) that are illegally poured down drains in restaurant kitchens.
Three times in the last three months, the Waste Management Authority has had to clean the Cruz Bay sewer lines of FOGS, according to Stella Saunders, Communications Manager of WMA.
In the most recent effort, workers removed more than 800 pounds of grease from the lines.
“If this grease keeps coming in, it will impact our new equipment, and if it backs up, it won’t be pretty,” Saunders said. “And with Carnival coming, we really have to do the right thing.”
Investigation To Start
Saunders was appealing to the common good when she said this, but she followed with a stern warning: “Our staff enforcement officers will be investigating to see that every restaurant has the proper method of disposal,” Saunders said. “Anyone found illegally disposing of waste will be cited.”
Investigators have started tracking down the sources of the grease that has clogged the lines and in the process have discovered illegal sewer hook ups.
The illegal disposal of grease is considered a form of littering, which carries a $1,000 fine and a jail term of up to 180 days. “Littering is deemed a criminal offence. You have to go to court to pay it or fight it, and if you don’t show up, a marshal can be sent,” Saunders said.
Saunders seemed frustrated that the brand new pump station equipment was endangered, especially since several companies located on St. Thomas will come to St. John to collect used cooking oil.
“One company doesn’t even charge for the service because the oil is then processed and sold as biodiesel fuel,” said Saunders. “There are options out there, especially within the last year because it is a much needed service.”