Oil dump owner says site will be cleaned up by Friday

POSTED: 02/23/11 12:00 PM

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – Bevon Payne leased the land on top of the G. Alexis Arnell Road for temporary storage of used oil he intends to ship out to the United States for processing. “This is not an oil dump.  I am actually doing something good for the island,” he told this newspaper yesterday. “By Friday all the oil should be gone and the land should be restored to its original state.”

Payne said that he is busy putting the oil in containers that will be collected for shipment to the United States.

“I am not trying to dump oil here,” he repeated, adding that he recently reached an agreement with a company from Trinidad – presumably Oil Mop – for his future activities. Payne said that the oil has been stored atop the hill for approximately eight months.

“I intend to do an island-wide clean-up.” Payne said. “Over the next two months you will see a much cleaner St. Maarten. I intend to collect used oil over a period of six months until I have enough to ship it out.”

St. Maarten Pride Foundation’s vice-president Rueben Thompson is not convinced. He discovered the mini oil dump in November of last year, during a tour of the island with this newspaper.

“Oil Mop has made an estimate of the amount of oil that is stored there,” Thompson said. “They figure it is 12,425 gallons .(a bit more than 47,000 liter – ed.) and that it will cost $18,600 to clean up the place. Now it needs to be properly disposed off. We must avoid that the perpetrator brings it to the landfill.”

Thompson met with environmental inspector Olivacce a couple of weeks ago to discuss the situation. They met on site with police inspector Gout and with members of the fire department.

“The inspection knew already for some time who was dumping the oil there,” Thompson said. “Now it needs to be properly disposed off. I take the statement that it will be shipped out to the United States with a grain of salt. Everything goes to Puerto Rico, Venezuela or Trinidad. I have never heard of such shipments going to the US.”

Thompson wonders why the government allowed the oil storage on this particular location to go on for so long. “And it is a dump, I don’t care what Mr. Payne says” he emphasizes. “This oil is stored there in an irresponsible manner. Containers have toppled, oil has been leaking into the hillside.”

Thompson says that the companies that give their oil to Payne also have a responsibility. “There are three guilty parties here: the person who dumps, the companies who give the oil, and the government.”

The Pride vice president said that he suspects Payne has been dumping oil at the location for at least one and a half years, “while he is awaiting permits and proper facilities.”

Taking away the oil alone is not enough, according to Thompson. “The soil has to be sanitized as well. We heard that he offered companies to take their oil away for free. He has good intentions but the way the oil is stored is not helping the cause at all. His long term goal is honorable, but this is not the way to go about it.”

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