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EPA finalizes cleanup plan for Cidra superfund site

Rendering of the Cidra Superfund site. (Credit: EPA)

Rendering of the Cidra Superfund site. (Credit: EPA)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized its plan to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater at the Cidra Groundwater Contamination site, which includes portions of the Cidra commercial district and an industrial park. The EPA said Tuesday it estimates cleanup costs will be about $12.9 million.

The EPA is requiring a combination of cleanup technologies to address the contamination within distinct areas of the site, specifically a dry cleaner business and a vacant property owned by Ramallo Brothers Printing Inc., the agency said.

“Groundwater at the site is contaminated with harmful volatile organic compounds, which are often found in paint, solvents, aerosol sprays, cleaners, disinfectants, automotive products, dry cleaning fluid, and used in printing operations. Some volatile organic compounds can cause cancer,” it said in a release.

The agency further noted that four public drinking water supply wells at the site had to be taken out of service because they were contaminated with volatile organic compounds.

“There are 15 active drinking water wells located within four miles of the site, serving a total population of over 8,000 people. Area residents are currently connected to safe sources of drinking water from other municipal water supplies in the area,” it said.

The EPA held a public meeting on Dec. 4, 2013 in Cidra to explain the proposed cleanup plan and accepted public comments for 30 days and considered public input before finalizing the plan.

“This toxic waste cleanup will help ensure clean drinking water for people living in Cidra,” said EPA regional administrator Judith A. Enck. “EPA is committed to a full clean up at this site and actions that will protect human health and the environment.”

The cleanup at the site addresses the following:

International Dry Cleaners soil — The IDC facility is in the Cidra commercial district. The EPA is requiring the installation of a soil vapor extraction treatment system to reduce the volatile organic compounds in the soil. This method removes harmful chemicals from soil by extracting them in vapor form with a vacuum and then filtering the vapors through carbon filters to remove contaminants.

Ramallo Brothers Printing, Inc. soil — The EPA is requiring removing and disposing of contaminated soil from the property owned by Ramallo Brothers Printing located in the Cidra Industrial Park, and backfilling the area with clean soil. A soil vapor extraction treatment system in portions of this property will also be required. Additionally, harmful chemicals in the soil will be treated with heat to move them through soil toward wells, where they will be collected and treated further. The EPA will also place a cover or cap over soil in parts of the property to keep rainwater out.

Groundwater — Contaminated groundwater underneath and proceeding from the Ramallo Brothers Printing property will be addressed by injecting additives into the groundwater to promote the breakdown of the hazardous chemicals. The specific process to be used to inject the additives will be determined by the EPA as part of the design of the cleanup. Once the process has begun, the EPA will collect samples to confirm that the treatment is effective. In certain areas that may be difficult to access, the EPA may bring the polluted groundwater to the surface where it can be treated. The EPA will collect and analyze groundwater samples to verify that the levels of the contaminants are declining.

“Land use restrictions such as easements on the Ramallo and IDC properties will also be used to limit people’s exposure to contaminated groundwater and soil,” the agency said. “During soil and groundwater cleanup activities, monitoring, testing and further studies will be conducted to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup. The EPA will conduct a review every five years to ensure the effectiveness of the cleanup.”

The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. After sites are placed on the Superfund list of the most hazardous waste contaminated sites, the EPA searches for parties legally responsible for the contamination and holds them accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups.

The EPA has identified Ramallo Brothers Printing, Inc. as a party potentially responsible at the site. Ramallo Brothers recently filed for bankruptcy but EPA is continuing to seek to engage those parties legally responsible for the contamination in implementing the cleanup at the site.

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

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