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EPA Reaches Agreement to Advance the Cleanup of the San German Superfund Site in Puerto Rico

Dec 22, 2023

NEW YORK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that the United States District Court in Puerto Rico has approved a settlement between the agency and HP Inc., the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Corporation, Wallace Silversmiths of Puerto Rico, Ltd., and Lifetime Brands, Inc. to design and carry out a cleanup at the San German Groundwater Contamination Site in Puerto Rico. The cost of the cleanup is estimated at $7.7 million.

The San German Groundwater Contamination Superfund Site includes the Retiro Industrial Park and adjacent areas. Over 44 nearby industrial sites were part of the EPA's investigation. After discovering the contamination, the Puerto Rico Department of Health ordered three public supply wells to be closed in 2006. Area residents are connected to safe sources of drinking water from other municipal water supplies in the area.

"Today’s announcement demonstrates EPA’s progress in ensuring that the communities of San German are protected from the potential risk of exposure to chemical contamination,” said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “EPA will continue to hold companies responsible and require them to conduct the work necessary to clean up contaminated sites which in turn helps to protect public health and our environment.”

The site is located in the municipality of San German in the southwestern part of Puerto Rico. The EPA placed the site on the Superfund program’s National Priorities List in 2008.  The site includes three public water supply wells in the municipality of San German that functioned as an independent, interconnected water supply system. In 2006, the Puerto Rico Department of Health closed the three supply wells after sampling revealed the presence of elevated concentrations of volatile organic compounds, including tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene. Investigations indicated that the Retiro Industrial Park, located near the affected supply wells, is the source of the contamination. Several buildings in the park, currently occupied by active businesses, were investigated during a remedial investigation.

In 2015, the EPA decided on a plan to clean up the soil at two lots located within the Retiro Industrial Park where contamination was found, known as the Wallace Lot and the CCL Lot. The cleanup is being addressed in two phases. The first phase, which is the subject of the agreement, focuses on contaminated soils and shallow, highly contaminated groundwater.  The second phase, which is currently ongoing, involves further investigations of larger, less contaminated groundwater plume.

The agreement requires the parties to address conditions related to the first phase by cleaning up the soil and shallow, highly contaminated groundwater through the use of processes called soil vapor extraction and dual-phase extraction and treatment in place. Soil vapor and dual-phase extraction treatment systems are used to reduce the volatile organic compounds in the soil and groundwater. These methods remove harmful chemicals from the soil and groundwater in the form of vapor by applying a vacuum. The parties have agreed to monitor the area long-term to ensure that the cleanup is effective.

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For more information about this superfund site, please visit San German Ground Water Contamination Site.

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