Senate on St. Croix closes its doors for a week

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ST. CROIX - Senators and staff at Fritz Lawaetz Legislative Hall were dismissed from the complex about midday Monday and will take off from work until next Tuesday, as a result of ongoing sewage maintenance work in the area.

Senate Vice-President Sammuel Sanes said the building is being closed because of maintenance work at the sewage pumping station, located directly adjacent to the Legislature on its northern side.

Sanes said the Rules and Judiciary meeting that was scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday on St. Croix will now take place at Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall on St. Thomas at the same time and date.

With the Legislature closed Thursday, Friday and Monday for the Easter holidays, the move to close on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week increases the total days off for the St. Croix staff.

Sanes said he had been in communications with the V.I. Waste Management Authority and thought it proactive to close the building in anticipation of disturbance from the noise and sewage disposal.

"As a result, work will be affected and therefore, the prudent thing to do is to close the Legislature during this time frame," Sanes said.

Employees at the Legislature have previously complained of a foul odor coming from the pump station, which they said increased when the work began last month.

It is suspected that with the change in the sewage, odors were escaping through floor vents in the Legislature building's courtyard.

Waste Management Authority spokeswoman Stella Saunders said the work at the Lagoon Street Pump Station resumed Monday and includes the upgrading of that wastewater facility.

"The upgrading of this station will result in an overall improved wastewater collection and disposal service to the Frederiksted area," she said. The project includes cleaning the wet well, installing solar panels for energy savings, replacing the ventilation system for the dry and wet wells, painting the interior and exterior of the pump station and generator buildings and installing a diesel pump for redundancy.

Saunders said the pump station project began last month and is expected to be completed within eight months. The contract was awarded to SD&C in the amount of $435,746 and is funded by an Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water Act Construction Grant.

She said a pump around the system has been put in place to redirect the flow of the wastewater entering the station around the wet well.

The portable pump will be in place for the duration of the cleaning, which is expected to take no more than four days, and is expected to cause some mechanical noises, Saunders said.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email

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