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EPA Orders Six Companies To Perform Cleanups at Tutu Wellfield Superfund Site on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Release Date: 05/28/1998
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(#98060) NEW YORK, N.Y.-- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today ordered two gas stations, a drycleaner and an auto supply store on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands to perform soil and groundwater cleanups at the Tutu Wellfield Federal Superfund site. EPA named the Esso and Texaco Service Stations, O'Henry Cleaners and the owners of the property, Cyril V. Francois Associates, Four Winds Shopping Center and the Western Auto Supply Company in four separate, Unilateral Orders under Superfund and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. These businesses in Tutu are sources of chemical leaks into the Turpentine Run Aquifer and face penalties of up to $27,500 per day if they do not comply with the orders.

EPA will oversee all the required soil and groundwater remediation activities, which are part of the comprehensive long-term remedy selected for the Superfund site in August 1996.

"Our focus in this enforcement action is on preventing further contamination of the aquifer by removing soils with chemicals and treating the most contaminated groundwater," EPA Regional Administrator Jeanne M. Fox said. "Groundwater cleanup is an especially significant issue in the Virgin Islands. In the event of a drought or disruption of water service from the desalination plant as a result of a hurricane, it is especially important to have as many sources of drinking water as possible. A site-wide groundwater cleanup will be conducted in a future action. EPA's ultimate goal is restoration of the aquifer," Ms. Fox noted.

The first of multiple leaks was detected in 1988 in a commercial well that supplied drinking water for schools, hotels and public housing on St. Thomas. In response, EPA supplied bottled water to affected residents through the Superfund program. EPA later ordered the companies responsible for the contamination to provide an alternate drinking water supply to the affected institutions and the public. EPA also supervised investigations to determine the extent and sources of the contamination problem as well as studies to identify the best cleanup options.

Under the Unilateral Orders announced today, the federal government is requiring each responsible party to address soil contamination on their properties and/or groundwater contamination that emanated from their operations. Of the parties named in the orders, Texaco has already begun contaminated soil and groundwater cleanups at their Tutu service stations and is expected to spend up to $1 million on remedial measures. Esso, O'Henry Cleaners and the Western Auto Supply Co. are required to perform cleanups worth $700,000, $850,000 and $450,000, respectively. The parties can request a conference with EPA before the orders become effective.

The remedy selected by EPA for the Tutu site contamination also includes a soil cleanup at the Virgin Islands Department of Education Curriculum Center and a site-wide groundwater cleanup. EPA is proceeding with the design of these portions of the remedy, using monies from Superfund.

For more information contact:
Richard Cahill, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3666 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: