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EPA Orders PRASA To Fix Loiza and Torrecillas Pump Stations; Pay 275,000 In Penalties

Release Date: 12/16/1997
Contact Information:

(#97172) San Juan, PR -- The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) must repair its Loiza and Torrecillas pump stations within 90 days and address deficiencies, according to orders issued to PRASA by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Agency is also seeking $275,000 in penalties for violations at both facilities. EPA inspections of both pump stations, which were prompted by citizen complaints, revealed numerous Clean Water Act violations.

"It is imperative that pump stations work properly because they carry raw sewage to wastewater treatment facilities," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "If a pump station is not working properly and is bypassed, there is nowhere for the raw sewage to go and it is discharged into the streets and rivers without any treatment at all. This is a very unpleasant and potentially dangerous situation to the citizens in the area."

During an October 1, 1997 inspection of the Loiza Pump Station, EPA inspectors found that the pumps were not working and the entire system was off-line. In addition, the activated carbon odor removal mechanism was not operating, and equipments designed to grind up and reduce solids in the raw sewage into a uniform size were not installed. In addition, records showed that only one of five pumps consistently operated and that there had been numerous bypasses of the pump station, which resulted in raw sewage discharges. EPA has ordered PRASA to take all steps necessary to remedy these violations within the next 90 days.

On October 8, 1997, EPA inspected the river in Loiza, Puerto Rico and the surrounding community in response to public complaints about raw sewage discharges in the area. The EPA inspector found evidence of past raw sewage discharges from various manhole covers. A subsequent inspection of the Torrecillas Pump Station, which handles the raw sewage in the area, revealed a number of deficiencies. The station was in poor condition; there was no alternative unit to provide emergency power; two out of three pumps were not working properly; there was poor security at the building entrance, and the records did not reflect pump station failures that resulted in raw sewage discharges. EPA has ordered PRASA to remedy these violations and to pay $275,000 in penalties.

PRASA is currently making necessary repairs in both stations, and there have not been any recent reported bypasses of either pump station. EPA plans to follow up with inspections of the facilities to ensure that all repairs were made.


For more information contact:
Mary Mears, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3669 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: mears.mary@epamail.epa.gov