Virgin Islands site ready to come off superfund list
A successful cleanup has been completed at the Island Chemical/Virgin Island Chemical site in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and now the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing its intention to delete the site from its Superfund National Priorities List (NPL) of the most contaminated sites in the United States and its territories. EPA is taking comments on its proposal to remove the Island Chemical site from the list. Once it is taken off the list, the site will remain eligible for cleanup in the very unlikely event that changes in the condition of the property warrant such action.
“The fact that we can take this site off the list shows the success of the Superfund program,” said George Pavlou, Acting Regional Administrator. “EPA has made sure that this site is no longer a threat to the people of the US Virgin Islands, and deleting Island Chemical from the Superfund list is evidence of all the hard work that has been done to clean it up.”
The Island Chemical site is a 3.5-acre facility located in the southwest portion of St. Croix. The facility was used to manufacture pharmaceutical chemicals and benzyl acetate, which is used in perfumes, flavorings, resins, lacquers, printing inks and varnish removers. As a result, contaminants including ethylbenzene, xylene, acetone, and chloroform were found in the ground water and the soil at the site. EPA addressed soil and ground water contamination at the site through a process called soil vapor extraction, which involves removing the contaminants, in the form of vapors, from the soil by vacuuming them out, and air sparging, which uses air to help remove harmful vapors from polluted soil and ground water. Air is pumped underground, causing contaminants to evaporate faster, which makes them easier to remove by vacuuming. The remedy also entailed monitoring chloroform levels in the ground water to ensure that the levels continued to naturally decrease. Controls that limit ground water use at the site have also been implemented.
EPA identifies sites that appear to present a significant risk to public health, welfare, or the environment and maintains the NPL as the list of those sites. In general, NPL sites are those where serious hazards exist or have existed which are threats to health. After several rounds of sampling and monitoring, it is clear that the site no longer poses a risk to the surrounding community, and EPA is ready to take the Island Chemical site off the NPL.
The public comment period on EPA’s proposal to delete the Island Chemical site will close on September 15, 2009.