"US Targets Environmental Crime in Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands"

"The Justice Department’s new plan to crack down on environmental crimes in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands is badly needed to combat corruption and shore up threadbare local agencies, according to Puerto Rico’s former top environmental official.

The agency is organizing a task force that will prosecute environmental violations and cases of waste, fraud, and abuse.

“They desperately need the help,” said Ramón Cruz, who formerly served as deputy director of Puerto Rico’s Environmental Quality Board. “This has a huge impact. It adds some triangulation or redundancy in the investigation of these crimes.”

Last year, the DOJ and Environmental Protection Agency filed a settlement order requiring the town of Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, to stop piling up waste in a landfill the government called an “open dump.” On May 11, the same day the DOJ task force was announced, a federal grand jury indicted two men for allegedly depositing material into US waters in Salinas, a coastal town in Puerto Rico’s south."

Stephen Lee reports for Bloomberg Environment July 6, 2023.

Source: Bloomberg Environment, 07/06/2023