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EPA finalizes cleanup plan to address Arecibo pesticide warehouse

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a cleanup plan to address contaminated soil at the Pesticide Warehouse I Superfund Site in Arecibo, the agency announced.

The “Record of Decision” details cleanup work that includes removing and disposing of contaminated soil from the site to protect people’s health.

“EPA’s cleanup plan will address the source of contamination, so it dramatically reduces the threat of spreading and restricts the future use of the site to protect people,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “EPA’s continued strong partnership with the Puerto Rico government is evidenced by our collaboration on this final plan to reduce people’s possible exposure to pesticides on the island.”

Under the final cleanup plan, EPA will excavate and remove the upper 10 feet of contaminated soil in targeted areas of the site. The excavated soil, about 14,100 cubic yards, will be thermally treated before being disposed of at facilities licensed to receive the waste.

In addition, EPA will demolish the remaining dilapidated buildings at the site to accommodate excavating the soil.

EPA will also restrict the future use of the site to ensure it is not used for residential purposes. Throughout the cleanup, monitoring and further studies will be conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the remedy.

The EPA will review the cleanup within five years of completion to ensure its effectiveness.

Pesticide Warehouse 1 was a pesticide storage warehouse that the Puerto Rico Land Authority owns, which was used for pesticide mixing and storage operations from 1953 to 2003. In October 1999, the property was leased to Agrocampos, Inc.

During its years of operation, the site was used to supply pesticides for pineapple crops in the surrounding area as well as for the storage and preparation of insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers.

Leftover and excess pesticides were discharged directly to the ground adjacent to the main warehouse resulting in soil and groundwater contamination, including significantly elevated levels of dioxin, arsenic, and dieldrin among other hazardous contaminants.

EPA posted an online public presentation in August to explain its cleanup proposal, discuss the other cleanup options that were considered, and to solicit public comments.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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