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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Chevron Phillips Chemical Puerto Rico Core in Guayama, Puerto Rico

On this page:

  • Cleanup Status
  • Site Description
  • Contaminants at this Facility
  • Site Responsibility

Cleanup Status

Facility-wide cleanup is being addressed by Chevron Phillips Chemical Puerto Rico Core (CPCPRC), under the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversight, in three response measures: Interim Corrective Measures (ICMs), closure of surface impoundments, and long-term corrective measures directed at cleanup of the entire facility.

In August 2017, the (EPA) approved the CMS and a site-wide program is underway to clean up the facility in accordance with the approved CMS. The public was provided the opportunity to review the Corrective Measures Study (CMS) Report and the public comment period ended on July 31, 2017

Interim Corrective Measures (ICMs)

The two ICMs were installed in 1996 and include the enhanced fluid recovery (EFR) system and an air sparging interceptor trench system. The EFR system is designed to remove multiple phases of petroleum hydrocarbon contamination. The air sparging interceptor trench system operates to reduce the dissolved BTEX concentration in groundwater. Both these systems also help to reduce offsite migration of contaminated groundwater.

Over 300,000 gallons of petroleum hydrocarbons have been recovered and contaminant levels in groundwater have been reduced significantly since the ICMs started operation in September 1996.

Closure of surface impoundments

There were four surface impoundments at the facility. CPCPRC submitted closure plans for the four impoundments and these plans were approved by EPA. Two of the impoundments were closed in 2006 and two were closed in 2013. The closures were clean closures under RCRA. Clean closure under RCRA means that all hazardous waste and associated contamination has been removed and that groundwater is not impacted. Clean closure included the removal of all contaminated sediment and post-closure groundwater monitoring beneath the impoundments. The EPA has certified the clean closure was achieved at the four impoundments.

Entire Site

The RFI work has been completed and the CMS Report was submitted to EPA in September 2016. The CMS Report presents the corrective measure alternatives for the site-wide effort. The facility-wide cleanup will address the soil and groundwater contamination including the cleanup of contaminated groundwater off the CPCPRC facility. In addition, the final remedy will include the removal of the top one foot of sediment from an effluent channel (ditch) that was part of the facility’s wastewater treatment system. After sediment removal, the ditch will be backfilled and re-seeded.

Off-site migration of hydrocarbons is now reduced through the program of actively recovering free product. A site-wide program to clean up the site will be implemented after the corrective measure study.

Site Description

The Chevron Phillips Chemical Puerto Rico Core (CPCPRC) site is located on Road 710, Km 2.2, approximately 2.5 miles southwest of Guayama, Puerto Rico, and northeast of Las Mareas Harbor (Former Ballast Basin Area on the Facility Location Map). The production facility was constructed in 1966 on land previously used for sugar cane cultivation. The facility operated as a specialty chemicals production facility from 1966 to 2008. In August 2008, CPCPRC announced the permanent cessation of operations and its intent to completely demolish the facility. All of the facility’s process units, storage tanks, wastewater treatment facilities, administrative and, other support structures and equipment have been dismantled and removed. Decommissioning and dismantling was completed in 2014.

In the past, the land surrounding the facility was used mainly for sugar cane cultivation. The sugar cane fields are no longer present and the surrounding land is now used for industrial purposes. To the east, PRASA operates a municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and Advanced Energy System’s(AES’s) coal-fired power plant operates directly to the west of the site. The Guamaní River (Río Guamaní) crosses at a distance varying from approximately 1,000 to 3,000 feet from the east side of the site.

The CPCPRC facility was constructed to process naphtha into a variety of refined hydrocarbon products including ; benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes  (BTEX), cyclohexanes, liquid petroleum gas, gasoline, and diesel fuels. Through inadvertent releases, BTEX was introduced into the soil and groundwater. In addition to BTEX the chemical, sulfolane was also released to soil and groundwater. Sulfolane is an organic solvent that was used as part of the petroleum refining process.

In 1986, a RCRA Facility Assessment (RFA) conducted by EPA revealed that BTEX contamination existed in the soil and groundwater at the facility. This contamination was initially detected in an up gradient well that was part of the groundwater monitoring system for the facility's Hazardous Waste Management Units (HWMUs). Subsequent investigations revealed that this contamination was the result of storage and treatment practices and that the contamination originated from a product storage area.

Contaminants at this Facility

The sources of contamination were identified and the nature and extent of that contamination was delineated during the RFI. The result of the investigation concluded that contamination was found in soil and groundwater beneath the CPCPRC facility. The major contaminants are BTEX and sulfolane. These contaminants are also migrating offsite to the east, south, and west.

Site Responsibility at this Facility

In September 1995, the EPA and CPCPRC’s predecessor, Phillips Puerto Rico Core Inc., entered an Administrative Order on Consent (the “Order”), Docket No. II RCRA-95-3008(h)-0307. The Order outlines four specific activities to be performed: RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI), Interim Corrective Measures (ICMs), Corrective Measure Study (CMS), and Corrective Measure Implementation (CMI).

Pursuant to the Order, cleanup is being addressed by CPCPRC under EPA oversight. In addition, the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board participates in the investigation and cleanup decision-making process.