Wednesday, March 3, 2010

EPA orders Caribbean Petroleum to resume cleanup in Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Feb. 25 that it has ordered Caribbean Petroleum Refinery L.P. (CAPECO) to resume cleanup work in the aftermath of the October 2009 explosion and fire at it's facility in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

A week earlier, contractors hired by CAPECO to perform cleanup actions walked off the job. That is the second time a contractor has quit work at the site, and EPA is ordering the company to address the situation. EPA will continue to provide oversight of the work being conducted by CAPECO's contractor at the property.

“The explosion, two-day long fire and subsequent oil spill at CAPECO's petroleum tank farm created a dangerous situation that impacted the adjacent wetlands and water bodies; the environmental impacts continue to pose a threat to human health and the environment,” EPA said.

"This facility is right in the middle of a densely populated community and it is very important that this cleanup continue," said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. "This work, performed under EPA's watchful eye, is critical to protecting the health and safety of nearby residents and to restoring the surrounding habitat."

Under an order issued by EPA, CAPECO must restart its work to repair damages at the facility, clean up oil, remove residual oil from damaged storage tanks, and clean up the fuel transfer pipeline. In addition, plans must be developed and implemented to monitor the air, conduct other sampling and analysis, and ensure the site is safe and workers and community members are protected.

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