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EPA Proposes to Add Puerto Rico Site to the Superfund List

Release Date: 09/15/2011
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, 212-637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov or Brenda Reyes, 787-977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today proposed adding the Corozal Well site in Barrio Palos Blancos, Corozal, Puerto Rico to its Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites. Sampling at the site, which is in a rural area near the municipalities of Corozal and Naranjito, found that the chemical tetrachloroethylene (or PCE) is contaminating a well used to supply drinking water to local residents and the ground water. Exposure to tetrachloroethylene can have serious health impacts, including liver damage and increased risk of cancer. After discovering the contamination in 2010, the Puerto Rico Department of Health ordered the well closed. In March 2011, EPA installed a treatment system at the well to remove the contaminants and provide the community with safe drinking water.

“Ensuring safe drinking water for communities is a top priority for EPA,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The Corozal well serves a small, rural population that is not connected to the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority public water supply system. By placing this site on the Superfund list, EPA can do the extensive sampling needed to find the best ways to address the contamination and protect people’s health.”

Ground water samples collected in 2010 and 2011 confirmed the presence of tetrachloroethylene, a solvent commonly used in industrial processes, in the Corozal well. The well is known locally as the Santana well. EPA conducted an investigation and collected ground water samples, but has not yet identified the source of ground water contamination.

EPA received a letter from the Puerto Rico government supporting the inclusion of the site on the Superfund list. The agency periodically proposes sites to the Superfund list and, after responding to public comments, designates them as final Superfund sites. The Superfund final designation makes them eligible for funds to conduct long-term cleanups.

With all Superfund sites, EPA does an extensive search to identify and locate the parties potentially responsible for the contamination, requires them to pay to for or perform the cleanup work. The majority of Superfund cleanups are performed by or paid for by polluters. Taxpayer dollars are used to cover EPA oversight costs and when no responsible party can be identified.

EPA is adding 15 other sites across the country to the Superfund list today and proposing 11 others to be added to the list. For more information on Superfund, go to http://www.epa.gov/superfund/.

For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for these final and proposed sites, on the day of publication visit: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/current.htm

With the proposal of this site to the Superfund list, 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

Comments can be submitted, identified by Docket number by one of the following methods:

Docket number EPA-HQ-SFUND-2011-0652

http://www.regulations.gov: Follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

Email: superfund.docket@epa.gov

Mail: Mail comments (no facsimiles or tapes) to Docket Coordinator, Headquarters; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; CERCLA Docket Office; (Mail Code 5305T); 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW; Washington, DC 20460

Hand Delivery or Express Mail: Send comments (no facsimiles or tapes) to Docket Coordinator, Headquarters; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; CERCLA Docket Office; 1301 Constitution Avenue, NW; EPA West, Room 3334, Washington, DC 20004. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket’s normal hours of operation (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Federal holidays).

For more information on the Superfund listing process, visit: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/npl_hrs.htm or contact Ildefonso Acosta, Region 2 NPL Coordinator, at 212-637-4344, acosta.ildefonso@epa.gov.

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