EPA Finalizes Plan to Address Dorado Groundwater Contamination Superfund Site in Puerto Rico
NEW YORK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized its plan for the Dorado Groundwater Contamination Superfund site to prevent people from being exposed to contamination from wells previously used to supply drinking water to local communities in the municipality of Dorado in Puerto Rico. While the public is not currently drinking water from these closed wells and the levels of contamination are naturally declining, EPA is taking steps to ensure that residents will not be exposed in the long-term and that the groundwater is closely monitored.
"Rural and disadvantaged communities such as those in Maguayo and Dorado are often disproportionately affected by environmental health risks, and at EPA we are working to reverse this trend,” said Acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan. “Thankfully, EPA data shows that the contamination levels are declining naturally, and we are putting tight restrictions on groundwater use to allow the natural process to continue without impacting human health.”
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 revealed tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene, solvents commonly used in industrial processes, at concentrations exceeding health-based standards in part of the system. Those impacted wells were closed in the 1990s and are no longer in service. EPA performed a thorough investigation of the area surrounding the wells but did not identify a source of the groundwater contamination.
To address the site, EPA will continue to restrict the use of the impacted groundwater so that it is not consumed by the public. The groundwater will be closely monitored over time to ensure the anticipated decline in levels of contamination occurs naturally. EPA’s selection of this remedy is based on the fact that no active source of contamination has been found, levels of contamination are low, and they are expected to naturally continue to decline according to sampling data collected and analyzed by EPA.
EPA will monitor that process and conduct a review of the cleanup at least every 5 years to ensure the levels of contamination are declining as expected.
EPA held a public meeting on August 5, 2021, to explain its proposed cleanup plan. The agency accepted public comments and considered public input before finalizing that plan in this remedy.
EPA’s final decision, in a Record of Decision (ROD), and the agency’s responses to public comments will be available at: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/dorado-ground-water-contamination