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EPA Proposes Lead Contaminated Yards In Brisas Del Rosario As A Site For The Federal Superfund National Priorities List

Release Date: 04/22/1999
Contact Information: Jose Font (787) 729-6951 /

(#99057) SAN JUAN, P.R.-- The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) isproposing to add a site in the Rio Abajo Ward of Puerto Rico to the National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL is a federal list of the nation's most serious hazardous waste sites. The site, which is called the Vega Baja Solid Waste Disposal Site, includes residential properties in the Brisas del Rosario community with lead-contaminated soils. Vega Baja is an inactive, unlined, uncapped, 15-acre disposal area where commercial, industrial and domestic wastes were dumped and/or open burned from 1948 to 1979.

EPA periodically proposes sites to the NPL, which allows EPA to further investigate them and determine the best approach to limit the extent of the risks they may pose to human health and the environment. Sites that are placed on the final NPL are eligible for cleanups financed under the Superfund Trust Fund.

"Children are the most vulnerable among us and they need our special attention, especially where lead is involved." said EPA Regional Administrator Jeanne M. Fox. "This listing is an essential step in securing Superfund money for the cleanup work needed to protect the long-term health of the children in the Brisas del Rosario community. We will be poised and ready to use these funds for the actual cleanup of individual properties. EPA will continue to work in close coordination with the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (PREQB), the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDOH) and the Brisas del Rosario community throughout the project," Ms. Fox explained.

Since 1996, local and federal agencies have been working together to evaluate the level of contamination and potential health risks in the Brisas del Rosario community. Results from extensive sampling done in the community show that drinking water meets federal standards and homegrown fruits and vegetables are safe to eat after washing. However, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has concluded, based on test results, that long-term exposure to soils with lead levels above 400 parts per million (ppm) should be prevented to eliminate a public health risk to children.

From April 1998 through December 1998, EPA took extensive surface and subsurface soil samples, which were then analyzed to determine the nature and extent of contamination at the site. With this information, EPA will determine the best method for cleaning up the individual properties. During the time that EPA conducted the sampling, EPA, ATSDR , PREQB and the PRDOH (Vega Baja Team) worked closely to protect the health of the residents and especially the children, who are most vulnerable to lead contamination.

In April 1997, January 1998 and August 1998, the Vega Baja Team conducted education and outreach activities to educate the residents about how to avoid health risks by reducing their exposure to lead contamination in the soils. These activities included poster sessions, one-on-one conversations, update reports and handouts, as well as confidential reports provided to residents explaining the public health significance of the environmental data collected from their homes.

With the addition of this site, there are now nine federal NPL sites in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Naval Security Group Activity Superfund site in the Village of Sabana Seca and the Frontera Creek Superfund site in Humacao were deleted from the NPL in the past year based on the completion of all federal cleanup activities at both sites.

The NPL rule, which officially proposes the site listing, was published today in the Federal Register. For members of the public interested in obtaining copies of the notice, an updated NPL list or Site description, please contact the RCRA/Superfund Hotline at 1-800-424-9346 or 703-412-9810. Further information on the Superfund program can also be obtained from EPA's homepage:

NOTE TO EDITORS: Reporters should contact Rich Cahill, at 212-637-3666, for the above information.

For more information contact:
Jose Font
EPA Caribbean Environmental Protection Division
1492 Ponce De Leon Avenue
Santurce, PR 00909
Voice: 787-729-6951 FAX: 787-729-7747 E-Mail: