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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

EPA finalizes cleanup plan for contaminated site in Arecibo

EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. García and Gov. Pedro Pierluisi (EPA Region 2/Facebook)

By The Star Staff

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized its cleanup plan to address arsenic and lead-contaminated soil, and volatile organic compounds in groundwater at the Battery Recycling Company Superfund site in Arecibo.

The final plan, known as a Record of Decision, explains EPA’s intention to address remaining contaminated soil and groundwater on and off the site’s property.

“EPA has already taken significant actions to address the most urgent risks posed by this site, and now we are moving forward with a long-term solution to clean up the remaining contamination and prevent further exposure,” EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. García said. “We appreciate the public’s participation and feedback on our cleanup plan, which helped us finalize the best option for the site.”

The EPA will remove contaminated soil from areas on and off the site and treat it so that it can be safely stored. It will be stored in a secure and restricted area at the former facility. The agency will also monitor the groundwater and file land use restrictions with property records to prevent groundwater use until a more permanent remedy can be selected. Additionally, EPA will ensure future land use does not conflict with long-term cleanup goals.

The site was operated as a secondary lead smelter and battery recycling operation from approximately 1994 until 2014. Prior to the secondary lead smelting operation, the site was used for the manufacture of organic chemicals to produce fumaric acid and phthalic acid. These activities left behind high levels of lead, volatile organic compounds and other contaminants in the soil and groundwater.

The EPA added the site to the Superfund National Priorities List in 2017 and addressed a significant amount of the lead contamination at the site in an early removal action that was completed in 2022. The federal agency held a public meeting on Aug. 29, 2023 to explain the proposed plan to the community and take comments.

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