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EPA Adds Dorado Site to Federal Superfund List

By on September 7, 2016

SAN JUAN – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency added the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Site in Dorado to its Superfund National Priorities List of the country’s most hazardous waste sites. Sampling at the site revealed chemical contamination that is impacting wells used to supply drinking water to the local communities. Drinking water with the solvents, which include tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene, can have serious health impacts including damage to the liver and increasing the risk of cancer, the EPA said in a written announcement.

When contamination was found at drinking water supply wells of the Maguayo and Dorado Urbano public water systems, the Puerto Rico Department of Health ordered to close the impacted wells. Currently, the drinking water used by the community in non-impacted wells complies with drinking water standards. The supplied drinking water is also being tested on a quarterly basis, as required by the Puerto Rico Department of Health.

A Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority water treatment plant

A Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority water treatment plant

The Maguayo and Dorado Urbano public water systems have drinking water wells that serve approximately 67,000 people. Groundwater samples collected by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority found tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene, solvents commonly used in industrial processes, in part of the system. The EPA’s investigation has not yet identified the source of groundwater contamination in the public supply wells.

After receiving a letter from the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board supporting the inclusion of the Dorado site on the Superfund list, the EPA “determined that a listing offers the best course of action to protect human health and clean up the contamination,” the agency’s release reads. The Superfund final designation makes sites eligible for funds to conduct long-term cleanups.

According to the EPA, the Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups rather than passing the costs on to taxpayers. “The EPA searches for parties legally responsible for contaminating a site, and holds those parties accountable for cleanup costs,” it added.

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