EPA tags Superfund site in Corozal
Sampling at the site, which is in a rural area near the municipalities of Corozal and Naranjito, found that the chemical tetrachloroethylene or PCE is contaminating a well used to supply drinking water to local residents. Exposure to PCE, a solvent commonly used in industrial processes, can have serious effects of people’s health including liver damage and an increased risk of cancer.
After discovering the contamination in 2010, the Puerto Rico Health Department ordered the well closed. In March 2011, the EPA installed a treatment system on the well to remove the contaminants and provide the community with water that is safe to drink.
“Ensuring that people have a safe source of drinking water is essential to protecting public health and is an EPA priority,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “By placing the Corozal well site on the Superfund list, the EPA can do the extensive sampling needed to find the best ways to address the contamination and protect people’s health.”
The Corozal well, known locally as the Santana well, serves a small, rural population that is not connected to the Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority public water supply system. Ground water samples collected in 2010 and 2011 confirmed the presence of PCE in the well. The EPA has not yet identified the source of the ground water contamination.
Nationwide, EPA is proposing to add 10 other sites to the Superfund list this week and is designating nine others as final on the list. The EPA periodically proposes sites to the Superfund list and, after responding to public comments, designates them as final Superfund sites.
The Superfund final designation makes them eligible for funds to conduct long-term cleanups. The Corozal well site is now designated as final on the Superfund list.
The EPA does an extensive search to identify and locate the parties potentially responsible for the contamination at all sites on the Superfund list. The agency requires responsible parties to pay for or perform the cleanup work with EPA oversight. The majority of Superfund cleanups are performed by or paid for by polluters. Taxpayer dollars are used to cover EPA cleanup costs when no responsible party can be identified.