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EPA allocates $3.1M for Scorpio Recycling Superfund site in Puerto Rico

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Scorpio Recycling Inc. Superfund site in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, is among the more than 100 sites in the United States benefiting from about $1 billion for cleanup projects under President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The funding, which comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), will launch cleanup projects at 25 Superfund sites and continue efforts at more than 85 others.  

Thousands of sites in the United States are contaminated from hazardous waste being dumped, left out in the open or improper management. These can include toxic chemicals from manufacturing facilities, processing plants, landfills and mining, and can harm communities , particularly in urban and rural areas, given that more than one in four Black and Hispanic Americans reside within three miles of a Superfund site.  

“People living in Puerto Rico have seen firsthand how transformative the Superfund program can be for communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa García. “This investment in America and in Puerto Rico builds on the historic progress we have already made in recent years to ensure that communities living near the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned contaminated sites get the protections they deserve.”   

The Scorpio Recycling site is a former 6-acre metal recycling operation that started in 1972, bought all types of metal and sold it to foundries in the mainland U.S., Brazil, Spain and Japan. The facility’s soil became contaminated with acids, lead and other metals due to poor management. 

The EPA has addressed the immediate risks by excavating battery casings and other contaminated materials on portions of the site and treating the soil with trisodium phosphate as a temporary mitigation measure to immobilize the lead. 

Future BIL funds will cover a gravel cover in an industrial area and a soil cover in a conservation area of the site.  The work, which is estimated to cost $3.1 million, will be the last planned to address contamination at the site and is expected to be completed in 2028. 

The investment is the last from the BIL’s $3.5 billion allocation for Superfund sites. To date, more than $2 billion has been used for cleanups at more than 150 sites on the Superfund National Priorities List.

“The Biden-Harris Administration continues its steadfast support for Puerto Rico in our collaborative efforts to protect our natural resources,” Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said. “Following last week’s announcement of $63.3 million from the EPA for water resources and infrastructure work, today we are pleased to announce another allocation for cleanup at the Scorpio Recycling Inc. Superfund site.”

Pierluisi also highlighted the additional funding for the Scorpio site as evidence of the administration’s commitment to environmental protection and public health in Puerto Rico.

The EPA’s increased cleanup funding over the past two years equals the total of the previous five, aligning with Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which set a goal to deliver 40% of the benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities “that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution,” the agency said.  

The EPA added that it continues to prioritize environmental justice and equity in the Superfund cleanup process, with nearly 80% of BIL funding directed to sites in areas with potential environmental justice concerns. Among the new cleanup projects, more than 75% are in such communities, based on data from EJSCREEN. 

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