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EPA and Navy Reach Landmark Agreement on the Cleanup of Former Naval Station Roosevelt Roads Base

Release Date: 01/26/2007
Contact Information: Leo Rosales (518) 747-4389 /

(San Juan, Puerto Rico) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with the U.S. Navy that will govern all current and future environmental cleanup work at the former Naval Station Roosevelt Roads base, which closed in March 2004. The agreement follows an open public process in which the EPA and the U.S. Navy held a public meeting and received and responded to multiple public comments as part of a 30-day public comment period.

“This agreement with the Navy begins the process of ensuring that the former base can once again be an asset to the residents of Ceiba, Naguabo and to all of Puerto Rico,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “We will continue to provide strict oversight over the cleanup and transfer of properties to ensure that the environment and the health of the community are protected.”

The agreement allows the U.S. Navy to transfer most of the facility; including 3,333 acres of wetlands and other conservation areas; 1,851 acres for airport and port-related operations, and 291 acres for economic development purposes; to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and to local municipal governments. In addition, the Navy has said that it intends to sell the remaining portions of the property to private buyers. If portions of the property are sold or transferred, then those buyers would be responsible for any necessary cleanup and could be required to enter into separate legal agreements with EPA. Under federal law, the Navy is ultimately responsible for completing clean-ups of the former Navy lands if they are not completed by the buyers of the property. Several limited portions of the property will be transferred to other federal agencies. The Commonwealth has created a local authority to develop a master land use plan to control reuse and development of the entire facility.

The 8,600 acre former military facility is about 33 miles southeast of San Juan and is bordered on all sides except the west by the Caribbean Sea. It includes a port facility, a major airfield complex and two uninhabited offshore islands that were used for military training. Contamination at the facility is primarily from the operation and maintenance of aircraft, water craft and vehicles at the site since 1941. It contains small arms ranges and other weapons training areas, but no bombing ranges. Areas of potential environmental concern at the site include:

    • an active 85-acre landfill, which will be capped and monitored on a long-term basis,
    • storage areas for petroleum, which have contaminated ground water,
    • electrical transformer and pesticide storage areas, from which contaminated soils will be removed and disposed of at licensed off-site facilities,
    • two offshore islands where preliminary investigations into munitions-related contamination are underway,
    • a defunct power plant at which outdoor structures have been decontaminated, contaminated soils have been removed and properly disposed of, and investigations have confirmed that the interior of the building is contaminated, and
    • a group of large and small, long-abandoned landfills, which are in various stages of evaluation.

Within the next few days the public can view the agreement, the responses to public comments along with other site-related documents at the following locations in Santurce, Rio Piedras and Ceiba: (1) USEPA, Caribbean Environmental Protection Division, Centra Europa Building, Suite 417, 1492 Ponce de Leon Avenue; (2) Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, 1308 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Room 533, Carr Estatal 8838, Sector El Cinco, and (3) Ceiba Public Library and Ceiba Mayor’s Office at Lauro Pinero Avenue, Plaza de Recreo.

The final agreement between EPA and the Navy and the responses to public comments are immediately available at the following internet Web page address:

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