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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to add the San German Ground Water Contamination site in Puerto Rico to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) because contaminants are potentially threatening the local drinking water supply. The NPL is EPA’s list of abandoned hazardous waste sites throughout the United States addressed through the federal Superfund program. Commonwealth health officials test wells that draw drinking water from the ground near San German to ensure that they meet health-based standards.
“The Puerto Rico Department of Health is safeguarding people’s health when it comes to their water, while EPA will look into the cause of the problem,” said regional administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “We plan a continued investigation into the source of the contamination and its extent.”
The site, located in the Municipality of San German, consists of seven wells serving an estimated population of 25,000 people. The drinking water supply for San German relies on local water. Nearby manufacturing facilities and various industrial activities in the area have most likely contributed to the contamination of these wells. The main contaminants of concern are tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), which are solvents used in degreasing, industrial cleaning, and dry cleaning.
EPA began to investigate three locations in San German, thought to be potential sources to the ground water plume. EPA confirmed that several industrial facilities are sources. Once the site is placed on the NPL, EPA will expand its investigations to further define the nature and extent of contamination. EPA will also continue to monitor the drinking water supply for San German, along with the Puerto Rico Department of
Health. The department has already taken one well out of service because it was contaminated.
With the proposal of this site to the NPL, a 60-day comment period will begin during which the EPA solicits public input regarding this action.