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EPA Finalizes Plan to Address Pollution at San German, Puerto Rico Toxic Site

Release Date: 12/15/2015
Contact Information: Brenda Reyes, (787) 977-5869, reyes.brenda@epa.gov; Elias Rodriguez, (212-637-3664), rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized a plan to address contaminated soil and groundwater at the San German Groundwater Contamination Superfund Site in San German, Puerto Rico. The site includes the Retiro Industrial Park, which is occupied by many businesses. Sampling at the site showed that public water supply wells, soil and groundwater were contaminated with volatile organic compounds, including tetrachloroethene or PCE, a widely used solvent in industrial processes. Exposure to PCE can have health impacts, including liver damage and increased risk of cancer.

      After discovering the contamination, the Puerto Rico Department of Health ordered the wells closed in 2006. Area residents are connected to safe sources of drinking water from other municipal water supplies in the area. The EPA held a public meeting to explain the $7.3 million cleanup plan on August 19, 2015 in San German. Written comments were accepted for 60 days.

      The San German Groundwater Contamination site was placed on the Superfund list of hazardous waste sites on March 19, 2008. The site includes the Retiro Industrial Park, and nearby areas. Over 44 nearby industrial sites were part of the EPA’s investigation. The EPA’s plan addresses the areas that are the potential source of PCE contamination in the soil and the groundwater. The EPA will require a combination of systems that use pumps and other methods to remove pollutants from the most contaminated areas of soil and groundwater. Prior to installing these systems, the EPA will conduct a study to determine exactly how the system should be designed.

      The EPA will also determine if the site needs to install caps on portions of the land to limit the ability of rainwater to soak into the ground. Throughout the process, the EPA will monitor the groundwater and soil to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup plan.

      In addition, the EPA is investigating whether vapors from the groundwater and soil may have gotten into buildings on and near the site. This investigation is ongoing and the EPA will install ventilation systems in buildings where needed.

      Overall, the cleanup of the San German Groundwater Contamination Superfund Site has been divided into two phases. The first phase addresses contaminated soil and shallow groundwater because they act as an ongoing source of contamination for a broader area of groundwater. The second phase of the cleanup will address contamination of groundwater throughout the site.

      To view the Record of Decision, please visit: http://semspub.epa.gov/src/document/02/372938

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