>Brandon Cruz González

In order to repair damage caused by Hurricane María at several landfills and recycling centers around the island, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently approved nearly $7 million.

“We’ll continue to collaborate with the government of Puerto Rico and municipal governments for the development of their recovery projects. This award consists of over $5 million for twelve landfills and the remainder for seven municipal recycling centers,” said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico, José G. Baquero.

Of these funds, $100,700 is earmarked for repairs to the Juana Díaz landfill. In addition to serving over 50,000 residents, the landfill also serves several neighboring municipalities, businesses and industries in the southern area of Puerto Rico. According to the municipality, this facility receives between 300 to 400 tons of non-hazardous waste daily, roughly five percent of all municipal solid waste generated daily in Puerto Rico.

“It is very important to keep this landfill operational, so that it can protect the sanitary conditions of those communities where waste is collected on a daily basis. The municipality continues to work with FEMA on this and other projects, to protect both our citizens’ health and the environment,” said the mayor of Juana Díaz, Ramón A. Hernández Torres.

The award also includes over $56,000 for the Loíza Municipal Recycling Center. Every month this facility processes between 50,000 and 64,000 pounds of recyclable materials, including textiles, plastic, refrigerators, scrap metal, motor oil, cooking oil and cardboard.

According to the mayor of Loíza, Julia Nazario, the repairs to be completed at the recycling center’s administrative areas will help these return to their pre-hurricane capacity. “The optimal operation of this municipal recycling unit will directly benefit the health and quality of life of our citizens,” added the mayor.

In addition, $17,000 was approved for repairs at the Orocovis municipal recycling center. This facility, which has remained in operation after the hurricane, processes around 800,000 pounds of recyclable material per year, such as cardboard, newspaper and plastic, among others.

“It is extremely significant for us to receive this obligation, not only for the municipality’s well-being, but for Puerto Rico and the entire world since we are talking about recycling. We combined the funds received from FEMA with funding received from the insurance company, and among the improvements, we acquired machinery to accelerate the process,” said the mayor of Orocovis, Jesús E. Colón Berlingeri.

For his part, Manuel A. Laboy Rivera, Executive Director of the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience of Puerto Rico (COR3), said that developing these projects will allow building resilient infrastructure that will be in place in the event of a future natural disaster. “In COR3 we recognize the importance of these works, which contribute positively in one way or another to the protection of the environment and the health of the Puerto Rican people. Our team is committed to providing the necessary assistance in matters related to these projects,” Laboy Rivera added.

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