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EPA Orders Caribbean Petroleum Refining L.P. To Resume Cleanup of Its Facility

Release Date: 02/25/2010
Contact Information: Brenda Reyes (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov or Caroline Newton (212) 637-3658, newton.caroline@epa.gov

(San Juan, P.R.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered Caribbean Petroleum Refinery L.P. (CAPECO) to resume cleanup work in the aftermath of the October 2009 explosion and fire at it’s facility in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. Last week, contractors hired by CAPECO to perform cleanup actions walked off the job. This is the second time a contractor has quit work at the site, and EPA is ordering the company to address the situation. EPA will continue to provide oversight of the work being conducted by CAPECO’s contractor at the property. The explosion, two-day long fire and subsequent oil spill at CAPECO’s petroleum tank farm created a dangerous situation that impacted the adjacent wetlands and water bodies; the environmental impacts continue to pose a threat to human health and the environment.

“This facility is right in the middle of a densely populated community and it is very important that this cleanup continue,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “This work, performed under EPA’s watchful eye, is critical to protecting the heath and safety of nearby residents and to restoring the surrounding habitat.”

Under an order issued by EPA this week, CAPECO must restart its work to repair damages at the facility, clean up oil, remove residual oil from damaged storage tanks, and clean up the fuel transfer pipeline. In addition, plans must be developed and implemented to monitor the air, conduct other sampling and analysis, and ensure the site is safe and workers and community members are protected.

EPA has also ordered CAPECO to submit to EPA bi-weekly reports describing significant developments. Once the cleanup is complete, CAPECO must submit a final report that explains the quantities and types of materials removed from the site, and how they will be handled.

EPA personnel will continue to work alongside and oversee CAPECO in its cleanup efforts. The U.S. Chemical Hazard and Safety Investigation Board (CSB) continues its investigation into the source and cause of the explosion that caused the initial fire in October 2009.

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For more information on the CAPECO fire, please visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/capecofire.html

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