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EPA Possibly To Add Four Local New Sites To Superfund Program


September 21, 2000
Copyright © 2000 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB) will analyze four new sites in Puerto Rico during the next few months to potentially include them under the Superfund list, as petitioned by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The sites are the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) Central Aguirre in Salinas, the Bayamon municipal landfill, a P.R. Department of Agriculture pesticide warehouse in Manati, and Quality Electroplating plant in Caguas. Of these, Quality Electroplating is a private business while the other three are government owned facilities.

"We met with the [representatives from the federal] EPA in June who gave us the list of new sites to possibly include," EQB president Hector Russe told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. "These cases come from years ago, we now need to analyze and conduct studies on each case to present a final commentary to the EPA on the status of each site for them to evaluate," he continued, adding that they will most likely be ready by year’s end.

According to Russe, EPA’s is giving utmost importance to the Central Aguirre site. The last study EQB has on the site was conducted more than 10 years ago and Prepa’s executive director Miguel Cordero Prepa’s informed it has already conducted remediation on contaminated areas, which the EQB will now analyze.

Superfund cleanup is either paid for by the parties responsible for the damage or by the EPA. In Puerto Rico since 1983 $102.4 million has been spent on Superfund Expenditure and Settlements in the island’s 10 Superfund sites. Of the total, responsible parties have paid $85 million and the program has funded $17.4 million. While no amount has been identified for the future sites, the money spent on cleanup so far averages $10 million per site; so about $40 million may be spent for cleanup of the future sites.

The amount to be invested to cleanup the aforementioned sites will be determined later in the assessment process after the sites have been placed on the list, noted Genaro Torres, EQB director of environmental emergency and Superfund program. "It is a tedious and complicated process and the amount for cleanup vary according to the site," he said.

Administered by the EPA, the Superfund program, established in 1980, locates, investigates, and cleans up hazardous contaminated sites. The Superfund Trust fund was set up to pay for the cleanup of these sites if responsible parties cannot pay. The Superfund National Priority List (NPL) includes sites that are eligible for extensive, long term, cleanup action.

Puerto Rico has 10 out of 212 Superfund sites on EPA’s Region 2 NPL sites: Barceloneta Landfill, Fibers Public Supply Wells in Jobos, GE Wiring Devices in Juana Diaz, Juncos Landfill, RCA del Caribe in Barceloneta, Scorpio Recycling in Toa Baja, UpJohn Facility in Arecibo, V&M/Albaladejo in Vega Baja, Vega Alta Public Supply Wells, and Vega Baja Solid Waste Disposal.

The EPA recently announced that it would drop GE Wiring Devices from the NPL of hazardous waste sites since the entire cleanup has been completed and the site is no longer a threat to public health and the environment.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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