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EPA Announces Plans for Energy-Efficient, Environmentally Sound Facility at the San Juan Landfill

Release Date: 08/19/2002
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(#02082) San Juan, Puerto Rico -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny today joined San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini and Carlos Padin of Universidad Metropolitana to announce a $175,000 grant for the design and planning of an EcoComplex at the San Juan Landfill. An EcoComplex is a facility that demonstrates the potential for sustainable, energy- efficient and environmentally sound economic development. Preliminary plans for the San Juan facility include a hydroponic greenhouse, where produce would be grown without soil; and aquaculture, the production of seafood in a controlled environment. Desalinization technology would be used to produce fresh water from salt water for the facility, and methane gas from the landfill would provide the necessary energy. The idea for the San Juan EcoComplex was inspired by a similar facility constructed on a former landfill in Burlington County, New Jersey.

"The proposed EcoComplex will demonstrate once again that environmental protection and economic development are not mutually exclusive," stated Regional Administrator Jane Kenny. "In fact, they go hand in hand. This project will take a brownfield the San Juan Landfill and put it to productive use. It will incorporate pollution prevention strategies and serve as an educational facility that will showcase environmentally sound, sustainable practices."

The EcoComplex provides a range of environmental and economic benefits. Closed landfills such as the San Juan site are idea for this type of development because the methane they emit provides a readily available source of energy. The use of methane also reduces emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulates associated with the burning of fossil fuels. In addition, the use of pesticides and antibiotics is almost totally eliminated by the closed loop process employed in the fish farm and greenhouse.

The planning and design of the proposed facility will be overseen by a partnership that includes the City of San Juan, EPA Region 2, Universidad Metropolitana, the University of Puerto Rico, the University of the Virgin Islands and Rutgers University in New Jersey. Rutgers designed and operates the Burlington County, New Jersey EcoComplex and will take the lead in coordinating the San Juan project.

"The San Juan EcoComplex is an example of the sustainable development that many talk about but few have accomplished," added Kenny. "With the partnership we have put together, I am confident that San Juan will become a model for such development in the Caribbean."