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EPA Cleanup At VandM/Albaladejo Farms in Vega Baja Is Underway

Release Date: 11/25/1997
Contact Information:

(#97163) SAN JUAN, P.R. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began the cleanup of contaminated surface soils this month at V&M/Albaladejo Farms in a rural area of Vega Baja where years of dumping and burning plastic-coated electric cables, electrical equipment and car batteries have resulted in heavy metals contamination. The work, which is expected to cost around $1.5 million, will be conducted under the short-term cleanup, or removal portion of the federal Superfund program and should be completed within a year.

EPA has been working with a task force that includes several of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico's agencies to investigate potential concerns about nearby water supply wells. During heavy rainfall, runoff, from the burn areas on the site, drains in the general direction of nearby sinkholes. EPA and the task force have determined that the contamination found in the sinkholes poses a potential threat to human health because they seep into underground aquifers that serve as a public drinking water supply.

"Every community is entitled to a safe source of drinking water," said EPA Region 2 Administrator Jeanne M. Fox. "The cleanup at the V&M/Albaladejo Farms will reduce the contamination that poses a threat to the public water supply. It will help to ensure the basic right to clean water for the residents of this community."

The federal action grew out of an investigation of the area conducted by the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB) under an interagency agreement with EPA. EQB will continue to serve as a liaison between EPA and the Government of Puerto Rico during the course of the cleanup action.

There are at least four areas on the site where dumping and burning took place. Burning reportedly ceased on the V & M Farm property in 1986, but continued on the Albaladejo Farm property through at least 1988. The wastes were burned to recover copper, aluminum and lead.

EPA testing around the dump areas in 1996 and 1997 found high levels of lead, arsenic, copper, zinc, antimony and cadmium in soils. Surface soil contamination was also found in areas adjacent to the dump locations and near on-site sinkholes. EPA's cleanup efforts will also address these adjacent areas.


For more information contact:
Carl Soderberg
EPA Caribbean Environmental Protection Division
1492 Ponce De Leon Avenue
Santurce, PR 00909
Voice: 787-729-6951 FAX: 787-729-7747 E-Mail: soderberg.carl@epamail.epa.gov