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San German Ground Water Contamination Site Added to the List

Release Date: 03/19/2008
Contact Information: Beth Totman (212) 637-3662, totman.elizabeth@epa.gov or Brenda Reyes (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it is adding the San German Ground Water Contamination site in Puerto Rico to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) because contaminants are potentially threatening the local drinking water supply. The NPL is EPA’s list of sites that qualify as Superfund sites, which are complex uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites throughout the United States.

“While The Puerto Rico Department of Health is working to safeguard people’s health by ensuring that the water they drink meets our standards, EPA is looking into why the water is contaminated in the first place,” said Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “By listing this site on the NPL, we can focus on the long term cleanup objectives of identifying the source and cleaning it up so we can eliminate future risks.”

The site, located in the Municipality of San German, consists of seven wells serving an estimated population of 25,000 people. The drinking water supply for San German relies on local water. Nearby manufacturing facilities and various industrial activities in the area have most likely contributed to the contamination of these wells. The main contaminants of concern are tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE) which are solvents used in areas such as degreasing, industrial cleaning, and dry cleaning.

EPA began to investigate three locations in San German, thought to be potential sources to the ground water plume. EPA confirmed that several industrial facilities are sources. Now that the site has been added to the NPL, EPA will continue to expand its investigations to further define the nature and extent of the contamination. EPA will also continue to monitor the drinking water supply for San German, along with the Puerto Rico Department of Health. The department has already taken one well out of service because it was contaminated.

EPA proposed this site for NPL listing in September 2007 and a 60-day comment period followed where the public was welcomed to submit comments on the proposed listing.

To find out more about the NPL Site Listing process, visit: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/npl_hrs.htm. For more information about Superfund sites in Puerto Rico, go to: http://www.epa.gov/region02/cleanup/sites/prtoc_sitename.htm.

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