EPA Finalizes Plan to Clean Up Tutu Wellfield Superfund Site on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
NEW YORK – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it has finalized its decision to expand on the original cleanup plan to improve groundwater treatment at the Tutu Wellfield Superfund site on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. The final decision, in the form of a Record of Decision (ROD), includes modifications to the groundwater treatment system that is currently operating at the site and updates estimated costs associated with that expanded cleanup. Earlier industrial and commercial activities at the site resulted in contamination of the soil and groundwater with chlorinated volatile organic compounds, which can potentially harm human health. The Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Department of Planning and Natural Resources concurs with the selected remedy.
“The groundwater cleanup we had required at Tutu was working, but this modified cleanup plan will require an enhanced system, which we determined was needed based on residential and site-wide well samples,” said acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan. “The new system will better protect people’s health and ensure that groundwater contamination is more effectively addressed.”
The 1.5 square-mile site is in the Anna’s Retreat section of St. Thomas. In response to past releases of hazardous substances from area businesses, EPA required parties that are liable for the cleanup to address contaminated soil on and groundwater flowing under their respective properties. EPA also took action to remove contaminated soil from and constructed a system to pump and treat groundwater at the Virgin Islands Department of Education Curriculum Center, which began operation in 2004. The U.S. Virgin Islands government is currently operating this system.
Today’s decision by EPA will add additional wells to extract more groundwater from other areas that have been determined to be sources of contamination and make the system more effective. The plan also includes reinjection of treated, clean groundwater to create an underground barrier that will reduce the spread of contaminated groundwater. In addition, the plan calls for long-term monitoring of the groundwater and restrictions on its use in the vicinity of the site.
On July 14, 2021, EPA re-released for public comment its proposed plan that laid out the enhancements to the groundwater treatment system that is currently operating at the site. EPA shared a presentation to inform the public of the agency’s preferred plan and to solicit public comments. This presentation was in addition to the August 2018 public meeting that EPA hosted regarding the first release of the proposed plan on August 8, 2018. The Record of Decision, released today, formalizes EPA’s selected remedy.
EPA’s Record of Decision will be available at https://www.epa.gov/superfund/tutu-wellfield