Dorado Groundwater Superfund Site in Dorado, Puerto Rico Will Get Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funds to Continue Cleanup
NEW YORK – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the second wave of approximately $1 billion in funding from President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for new cleanup projects at 22 Superfund sites. This includes the Dorado Groundwater Contamination site in Dorado, Puerto Rico.
“Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America, we are moving faster than ever before to progress clean up at contaminated sites – from manufacturing facilities to landfills – in communities across the country,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan “But our work is not yet finished – we’re continuing to build on this momentum to ensure that communities living near many of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned releases of contamination finally get the investments and protections they deserve.”
"The Dorado community deserves clean and safe drinking water, and this investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help meet that promise and carry on with our cleanup plan," said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. "This is an example of the EPA and the government of Puerto Rico working in partnership with the Dorado community to ensure clean drinking water for its residents."
“Last Congress we worked in a bipartisan manner that results on a comprehensive infrastructure law that assigns $3.5 trillion to National Priorities List (NPL) of the Environmental Protection Agency. I am pleased to see how Puerto Rico is directly benefiting from these funds, now with the new allocation for the cleanup work of the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Superfund Site, said Representative Gonzales-Colon. “These cleanup projects are extremely important because the decontamination of our resources promotes economic development by allowing the reuse of spaces and, above all, protects the health of the communities.”
The Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, Anaïs Rodríguez Vega, declared: “The people of Puerto Rico are pleased that this water clean-up project has been placed among the priorities to be financed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The support of EPA has been essential to improve the quality of groundwater in Puerto Rico, a resource that allows us to meet the drinking water needs in certain areas of the island. The state and federal environmental agencies continue to be vigilant in the face of any possible contamination to collaborate closely with solutions.”
Groundwater contamination at the Dorado Groundwater Contamination site was first detected in the 1980s and it affects two active water supply systems, the Maguayo and Dorado Urbano, which are operated by Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) and serve populations of about 36,000 and 31,000, respectively. Some of the wells were closed permanently as a precaution to protect people’s health. Based on data from the Puerto Rico Department of Health and PRASA, the water wells that are still in use meet drinking water standards. To ensure protection into the future, Puerto Rico is required to sample wells regularly and wells that have elevated levels of contamination are addressed accordingly.
EPA will use funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to clean up the groundwater contaminated with volatile organic compounds, specifically trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethene (PCE). The cleanup will be done using a combination of methods, including natural processes, restrictions on groundwater use, and installing new wells. The implementation of these measures will ensure the continued protection of the communities in the area and their access to safe drinking water. Starting early next year, additional monitoring wells will be built. These wells will be checked every six months for the first two years, and then once a year after that. This monitoring will continue for 18 years to ensure the water stays safe. With these funds from the BIL, EPA is working to provide long-term access to safe drinking water for the affected communities.
The $1 billion investment announced today is the second wave of funding from the $3.5 billion allocated for Superfund cleanup work in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. With the first wave of funding announced in December 2021, EPA deployed more than $1 billion for cleanup activities at more than 100 Superfund National Priorities List sites across the country. Thanks to this historic funding, EPA started 81 new cleanup projects in 2022, including projects at 44 sites previously on the backlog. By starting four times as many construction projects as the year before, EPA is aggressively bringing more sites across the country closer to finishing cleanup.
In addition to funding cleanup construction work, this investment is enabling EPA to increase funding for and accelerate essential work needed to prepare sites for construction and ensure that communities are meaningfully involved in the cleanup process. In 2022, EPA more than doubled its spending for Superfund pre-construction activities like remedial investigations, feasibility studies, remedial designs, and community involvement.
EPA is committed to carrying out this work in line with President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative by advancing environmental justice and incorporating equity considerations into all aspects of the Superfund cleanup process. This will help ensure that historic and ongoing impacts of contamination on overburdened communities are fully considered and addressed. Out of the 22 sites to receive funding for new cleanup projects, 60% are in communities with the potential for environmental justice concerns based on data from EJSCREEN, an environmental justice mapping and screening tool that provides EPA with a nationally consistent dataset and approach for combining environmental and demographic socioeconomic indicators.
In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, known as Superfund. The law gave EPA the authority and funds to hold polluters accountable for cleaning up the most contaminated sites across the country. When no viable responsible party is found or cannot afford the cleanup, EPA steps in to address risks to human health and the environment using funds appropriated by Congress, like the funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
For more information on each site, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-sites-new-construction-projects-receive-bipartisan-infrastructure-law-funding
To see highlights from the first year of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding at Superfund sites, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/infrastructure/cleaning-superfund-sites-highlights-bipartisan-infrastructure-law-funding
For more information about EPA’s Superfund program, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/superfund
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