Contact Us

Newsroom

News Releases

 

EPA Proposes to Add Puerto Rico Site to the Superfund List

Release Date: 04/08/2009
Contact Information: Beth Totman, (212) 637-3662, totman.elizabeth@epa.gov

(San Juan, P.R.) In order to protect nearby students, workers and property owners in the Municipality of Utuado, Puerto Rico from potentially hazardous chemicals that may be coming from the site of a nearby manufacturing facility, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to add the Papelera Puertorriquena (PPI) site to its Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). The listing would enable EPA to do an investigation into the extent of the contamination at the site and to take the proper measures to address it. PPI is an active facility that manufactures paper and plastic bags, using ink-based solvents in the manufacturing process, as well as storing other paper-based products at the site. The site is contaminated and there is evidence that this contamination has impacted the surrounding area. EPA is seeking public comment on the proposed listing of the site.

“By adding the PPI site to the Superfund list, we can better ensure that students, workers and residents in the area are safeguarded against the contaminants coming from the site,” said Acting Regional Administrator George Pavlou. “EPA will now be able to further investigate the contamination caused from the actions at PPI and can take appropriate actions to address it."

For more than 40 years, PPI has manufactured paper bags, including coffee bags, bags for bakery products, rice bags, supermarket bags, cardboard boxes, and plastic bags in different sizes and dimensions at its facility in Utuado. Other paper-based products, like greeting cards and paper gift wraps, are stored on site and distributed by PPI. During the manufacturing process, PPI uses water-based and oil-based inks, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pellets (resin pellets), ethyl acetate, and isopropanol. Many businesses and residences surround the facility, as well as at least eight public schools, which are within 0.5 mile or closer. A university, the Puerto Rico Department of Labor, and the Administration for the Sustenance of Minors share the property with PPI.

The PPI building is within 30 to 40 feet of the Vivi River, which flows one mile to the Rio Grande de Arecibo, which, in turn, flows into a reservoir and a fishery. There are drains and holes in the facility walls and floors that discharge ink and other liquid wastes into the Vivi River and the soil underneath and surrounding the facility. In November 2008, colored discharges from the facility were observed flowing into the Vivi River, and testing revealed that the discolored liquid contained trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetracholorethylene (PCE).

With the proposal of this site to the NPL, a 60-day comment period will begin during which EPA solicits public input regarding this action. For instructions to submit comments, go to http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/pubcom.htm or contact Dennis Munhall, Region 2 NPL Coordinator at (212) 637-4343 or Munhall.dennis@epa.gov. Once this site is placed on the NPL, EPA will expand its investigations to further define the nature and extent of the contamination.

To date, there have been 1,596 sites listed on the NPL. Of these sites, 332 have been deleted, resulting in 1,264 sites currently on the NPL. There are now 67 proposed sites awaiting final agency action. There are a total of 1,331 final and proposed sites around the country.

To find out more about the NPL Site List Process, visit: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/npl_hrs.htm. For a Google Earth aerial view of the PPI site: http://www.epa.gov/region2/kml/ppi.kml. (Please note that you must have Google Earth installed on your computer to view the map. To download Google Earth, visit http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html.)



        # # #

        09-040