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EPA Takes Action to Ramp Up Cleanup Work at CAPECO Facility

Release Date: 04/05/2010
Contact Information: Beth Totman (212) 637-3662, totman.elizabeth@epa.gov or Brenda Reyes (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov

(San Juan, P.R.) The Caribbean Petroleum Refining L.P. (CPR) has stated it is currently unable to conduct certain cleanup work at the site due to financial limitations. Therefore, EPA is ramping up its cleanup efforts at the CAPECO facility. The October 2009 explosion at the petroleum tank farm and resulting fires damaged tanks, impacted wetlands adjacent to the site, and affected air quality for the surrounding communities. In February 2010, EPA issued an order for CPR to get back to work at the site after its contractors had walked off the job and the efforts to enter into an agreement for the cleanup failed. EPA has provided oversight of the work conducted by CPR at the site since the explosion and resulting fires, and in the last month has started excavating contaminated soil at the property, among other cleanup efforts. CPR employees currently remain on-site for facility maintenance and to provide limited cleanup resources under EPA’s oversight.

    “We’re not going to slow down the work at the site because CPR says they can’t do the cleanup work now -- we’re taking over the work to ensure that the public and the environment are protected, and will pursue cost recovery from the company,” said Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “EPA’s been at the CAPECO facility from day one, providing oversight of the cleanup and ensuring that the community is protected, and now we’re taking it upon ourselves to get the job done. Delays serve no useful purpose.”

    In the last month, EPA has excavated nearly 780 cubic yards of soil contaminated with petroleum from the mid to eastern portions of the property. In total, EPA estimates that approximately 1,750 cubic yards of contaminated soil will be excavated. Once the contaminated soil is excavated, EPA will stockpile the soil, sample it, and eventually dispose of the soil off-site at a permitted disposal facility equipped to handle it. The excavation of the soil will address the actual soil contamination at the site resulting from the explosion, and minimize any potential for the contaminated soil to run off the property during rainstorms.

    EPA has started work to cleanup the petroleum transfer piping that runs throughout the property. The inter-facility transfer piping has residual gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products in it and EPA will vacuum the product out and store it on-site for eventual disposal. The Agency has stabilized drums containing hazardous materials that were once improperly stored on the property. EPA continues to monitor the air and conduct other sampling and analysis to help ensure that the community is protected from pollution hazards.

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