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EPA Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Changes to HOVENSA Cleanup; Public Meeting Set for March 12

Release Date: 03/07/2008
Contact Information: Rich Cahill (212) 637-3666, cahill.richard@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will join HOVENSA at its public meeting, to get feedback from the public on proposed modifications to its EPA permit. The changes will improve petroleum waste treatment at the facility and set final goals for the ongoing groundwater cleanup at the 1500-acre refinery property. The 60-day public comment period on the proposed changes began on February 26, 2008 and ends on April 26. The public meeting will be on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 at 5:00 PM at the HOVENSA Administration Building – Main Auditorium, 1 Estate Hope.

“The project to recover oil that is contaminating groundwater at HOVENSA is one of the largest in U.S. history,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “The proposed changes to the permit will improve waste treatment operations at the facility and advance the ongoing groundwater cleanup.”

Since the vast network of recovery and treatment wells began pumping in 1987, nearly 42 million gallons of free product petroleum have been reclaimed from the on-site groundwater. An estimated 1.2 million gallons are still targeted for recovery.

Under its EPA issued hazardous waste permit, HOVENSA operates two hazardous waste land treatment units at its facility, called ‘land-farming’, which break down petroleum-related chemicals in sludge. When EPA required monitoring showed that in certain portions of the land treatment units the required cleanup goals were not being achieved, HOVENSA requested a modification of the EPA permit for the ‘land-farming’ operations. EPA supports HOVENSA’s request to modify the procedures for “land-farming” of the sludge to improve its effectiveness because the changes will ensure that the cleanup levels required in the permit will be met.

Since 1987, HOVENSA has been conducting a free product petroleum recovery and containment program under an EPA permit. However, the work had been considered an “interim measure” because final cleanup goals had not been set. HOVENSA has proposed to modify its EPA permit to establish final cleanup goals for plumes of groundwater contamination located on the facility property. The proposed final cleanup goals require that the contaminant plumes will be recovered to the point where no more than a 2.4 inch layer of free product petroleum is present at the boundary of the plume and the dissolved hazardous constituents in the groundwater, including benzene, xylene, and methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), at the boundary of the plumes do not exceed concentration levels that are protective of human health. Also, the movement of the petroleum plumes cannot exceed one and 2/10 inches per day and the contaminated plumes must be contained so that they do not migrate off the HOVENSA property.

Any interested person wishing to comment on these proposals may either submit written comments to EPA’s representative at the March 12th public meeting or mail the comments, no later that April 26, 2008, to Mr. Adolph Everett, Chief, RCRA Program Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 290 Broadway, 22nd Floor, New York, N.Y. 10007-1866. Documents related to the proposed decisions can be viewed at: DPNR, Attention: Mr. Syad Syadali, 46 Mars Hill, Fredriksted, USVI 00640, telephone (340) 773-05666. Information on the Corrective Action activities being implemented at HOVENSA pursuant to RCRA is located at: http://www.epa.gov/region02/waste/fshovens.htm

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