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News Releases from Region 02

EPA Asks Public for Comments on Plan to Protect Drinking Water in Corozal, P.R., August 20 Public Meeting Planned

Contact Information: 
Brenda Reyes (reyes.brenda@epa.gov)

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a plan to use natural processes along with the continued use of a system that EPA previously installed to treat contaminated groundwater at the Corozal Well Superfund Site in Corozal, Puerto Rico. A key step in moving forward is receiving the public's feedback on the plan.

Previously, the EPA installed a system that uses carbon to address pollutants as an initial step to address the risks posed by people drinking contaminated groundwater. Data collected since the EPA installed the system confirms that there are no levels of concern at the well. The system will remain in place as a safeguard.

"EPA was able to install this system to provide the community with water that is safe to drink-and that is of paramount importance to us," said Judith A. Enck, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "That system is working well, and EPA is proposing to continue to operate and maintain it, but we want the public to have a voice in that decision."

The EPA will hold a public meeting to explain the proposed plan on August 20, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at the Felipa Sanchez Cruzado School, Carretera 811 Km 5 Hm 9, Bo. Cedro Abajo, Naranjito. Comments will be accepted until September 11, 2015.

The Corozal well, known locally as the Santana well, serves a small, rural population that is not connected to the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority public water supply system. The Puerto Rico Department of Health sampled the well, which serves a rural area within the municipalities of Corozal and Naranjito, and found that the chemical tetrachloroethylene, known as PCE, was contaminating a source of drinking water for local residents. Exposure to PCE, a solvent commonly used in industrial processes, can have serious effects on people's health, including liver damage and an increased risk of cancer.

After discovering the contamination, the Puerto Rico Department of Health ordered the well closed. In March 2011, the EPA installed the activated carbon treatment system on the well to remove the contaminants and provide the community with water that is safe to drink. The carbon strips out the PCE as the contaminated water is drawn through it. Since 2013, data shows that the water in the well now meets drinking water standards for PCE. The EPA plans to periodically sample the groundwater to confirm that the PCE level continues to decline.

The cleanup of the well is being conducted and paid for by the EPA. The EPA has not identified the source of the groundwater contamination.

Written comments may be mailed or emailed to: Daniel Rodriguez, Remedial Project Manager U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Vieques Field Office, PO Box 1537, Vieques, PR 00765, telephone: 787-741-5201, email: rodriguez.daniel@epa.gov.

To view the proposed plan, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/corozal-well-proposed-plan.pdf

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