Island Green Demands Environmental Cleanup at Caneel Bay Resort
St. John, USVI – December 17, 2020 – The board of Island Green Living Association, a non-profit on St. John, has voted unanimously in support of demanding a thorough cleanup of environmental contamination at Caneel Bay.
“According to the National Park’s own commissioned engineering reports, these pollutants are in the soil and water on the site,” said Harith Wickrema, President of Island Green. “On behalf of the entire St. John community, the responsible parties must be held accountable and we have prepared a full statement on the matter.”
WTJX-TV, PBS Channel 12, is hosting a forum regarding Caneel Bay including panelist David DiGiacomo, Vice President of Island Green, on Friday, December 18 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., with the opportunity for the public to call in and comment. Todd Sampsell, President of the Friends of the VI National Park will also participate. It will be moderated by highly experienced and knowledgeable Pam Richards, the Executive Director of the Legislature and former Commission of Tourism. The public is urged to tune in and participate. The call in number is 340 718 3339.
Island Green Statement Regarding Contamination at Caneel Bay
As an organization dedicated to sustainability, conservation and environmental responsibility, Island Green Living Association is demanding clean-up of environmental contamination at Caneel Bay Resort on St. John.
Three separate reports were prepared by engineers in 2012, 2014 and again in 2017 and all found the existence of hazardous chemicals and waste. However, the community was not made aware and Caneel Bay operators were not compelled to mitigate contamination or held accountable for cleanup.
It is Island Green’s position that at this time, a thorough assessment by engineers is necessary to ensure the full extent of the contamination is uncovered and a comprehensive cleanup must be undertaken. The property on which The Caneel Bay Resort was operating is public and belongs to all of us and the authority given to the present operator expires in September of 2023. This situation must be rectified with a guarantee that protections will be established to ensure it does not happen again.
David DiGiacomo has served a notice of an intent to sue CBIA and the Interior Department as a private citizen to compel CBIA, the operators of Caneel Bay, and the Interior Department to thoroughly uncover and eliminate the contamination.
The National Park’s 2017 commissioned report found six testing sites with confirmed soil contamination with one site confirmed with groundwater contamination. The chemicals of concern impacting soil consist of pesticides, semi volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), silver, arsenic, barium, cadmium, PCBs, selenium, and mercury. These soil impacts exceed the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Screening Levels (RSLs) for soil screening protection of groundwater (SSL). Soil concentrations also exceed leachability criteria at these Sites; therefore, resulting in a potential for shallow groundwater environmental impacts. Groundwater contaminants of concern consist of benzene, ethylbenzene, naphthalene, and 1- and 2-methylnaphthalene. These groundwater concentrations exceed their respective RSLs for tap water.
Established in 2004, Island Green Living Association is a registered 501 (c)(3) not for profit organization on St. John dedicated to sustainability throughout the USVI. www.islandgreenliving.org.