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Federal Court Gives EPA Access to Investigate Chemical Hazards at JandG Site in Vega Alta; Firm Will Shut Down Operations to Facilitate EPA Cleanup Work

Release Date: 09/19/2000
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(#00166) SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) experts will begin preparations this week to stabilize and remove any hazardous substances in drums, other containers and soil at the J&G site in Barrio Bajuras, Sector Los Chorros in Vega Alta that the Agency deems dangerous to public health and the environment. EPA first took action in response to community concerns about dust and odor problems in the area of the facility. In April 1999, EPA conducted an assessment of the site, which included the collection of samples from drums and soil on the property using a warrant that was administered by a U.S. Marshall. EPA inspectors noted numerous leaking and deteriorated drums on the site and analysis of the collected samples confirmed the presence of hazardous substances, including styrene.

Since then, J&G has repeatedly denied EPA access to the site, which forced the agency to seek judicial intervention through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). A judge’s ruling late last month in federal district court in San Juan ordered the owners of the property to allow EPA access to further investigate site conditions and start dealing with the known soil contamination and the threat of further releases. The court also ordered the owners of the firm to desist from handling any hazardous substances on the property and to shut down its operation while EPA cleanup activities take place.

"We are pleased with the Court’s decision and DOJ’s work on behalf of EPA. Our team will be at the site over the next few days, with a priority of dealing with any substances on the site that may pose an immediate risk to public health and/or the environment," EPA Regional Administrator Jeanne M. Fox said.

J&G manufacturing operations at the site consist of molding, cutting, painting and finishing various fiberglass products for consumer use. Products manufactured at the site include fiberglass swimming pools, horse carriages, storage tanks and boats. The firm uses acetone and resin solutions in its manufacturing process, which is conducted in an open air environment at the site.