From: Associated Press
Published February 15, 2005 12:00 AM

Two Environmental Groups Sue Puerto Rico's Sewer Authority

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Two environmental groups sued Puerto Rico's sewer authority on Monday, accusing it of using coastal waters "as a toilet" by allegedly leaking human waste into the sea.

The citizens' action suit filed in U.S. federal court in San Juan accuses the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority of violating clean water laws by failing to maintain a water treatment plant in Ponce, on the island's south coast.

Residents have complained that a tube at the plant has been leaking waste into open waters for years, leaving a bubbling black slick on the surface, said Mary Ann Lucking, director of CORALations, a Puerto Rico-based group that brought the suit along with the Highlands, N.J.-based American Littoral Society.

"The government of Puerto Rico continues to rely on their coastal waters as a toilet," Lucking said.

The groups based the suit on the sewer authority's monthly reports to the Environmental Protection Agency and accused the regulatory body of failing to stop the pollution, which they say has threatened sensitive coral reefs in the U.S. Caribbean territory.

"The suit is basically an effort to force the EPA into taking action," Lucking said. "These plants need to be upgraded and it's the EPA's job to make them do it."

Representatives from the sewer authority weren't immediately available for comment Monday.

Source: Associated Press

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