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The VandM/Albaladejo Farms Superfund Site in Vega Baja No Longer a Threat; EPA Proposes No Further Federal Action

Release Date: 08/24/2000
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(#00160) SAN JUAN, P.R. – The public health threat posed by a site once used to dump and burn plastic-coated electric cables, electrical equipment and car batteries, called the V&M/Albaladejo Farms Superfund site, has been eliminated and no further federal action at the site is warranted, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal. EPA placed the site, located a mile off Route 160 in the rural Almirante Norte Ward in Vega Baja, on its National Priorities List (NPL) of hazardous waste sites in December 1996. EPA has scheduled a public meeting at the Escuela Almirante Norte Conference Room in Vega Baja on September 7, 2000 at 7:00 P.M. to discuss current conditions at the site and its proposal.

EPA removed nearly 3,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with heavy metals from the V&M/Albaladejo Farms Superfund site in the winter of 1998 and disposed of it off-site. This action, taken under the federal Superfund program, eliminated the source of a potential drinking water problem. Residents in the vicinity of the site get their drinking water from a public system not affected by the contamination. EPA’s decision is based on its investigation of soils and groundwater in the area following the completion of the cleanup.

EPA's cleanup grew out of an investigation of the area conducted by the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB), which identified four areas on the site where dumping and burning took place. Burning reportedly stopped on the V&M farm property in 1986, but continued on the Albaladejo property through at least 1988. The wastes were burned to recover copper, aluminum and lead.

Soil samples were collected by EPA around the dump areas. High levels of lead, arsenic, copper, zinc, antimony and cadmium were detected and heavy metal contamination was also found in surface water on the site and sinkholes within the immediate vicinity of the site. The Agency spent about $2 million on the site cleanup, which took four months to complete.

The public comment period for EPA’s proposal began on August 7 and ends on September 12, 2000. Public comments should be addressed to Caroline Kwan, Remedial Project Manager, USEPA, 20th Floor, 290 Broadway, New York, New York 10007-1866. The public can review copies of the proposal and site-related documents at Vega Baja City Hall, Corner of Jose Francisco Nater and Betances Streets; EPA’s Carribean Office in the Centro Europa Building at 1492 Ponce De Leon Avenue, Suite 207, in Santurce; and the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, Emergency Response and Superfund Program, National Bank Plaza, 431 Ponce De Leon Avenue in Hato Rey.