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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Compaq Computer Corporation in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico

On this page:

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

Cleanup Status

Site cleanup and corrective action was addressed by Compaq Computer Corporation (formerly by the Digital Equipment Corporation), under EPA oversight, through a series of corrective action activities. These activities did not distinguish between Interim Corrective Measures and those affecting the entire site. The bulk of the metal hydroxide hazardous waste was removed from the lagoons, the contaminated soil removed, and the underlying bedrock surface cleaned to remove residual traces of the metal hydroxide.

The lagoons were then filled with clean fill material and graded flat. Lysimeters, which measure and sample soil moisture, were installed to determine whether metal contaminants from the hydroxide had leached into the soil and perhaps the underlying ground water. In addition, a seep (intermittent spring) and nearby ground-water wells were monitored.

The soil moisture monitoring excluded the reasonable possibility that releases of hazardous constituents from the former lagoons remain in fractures within the underlying bedrock that releases of these constituents have a reasonable chance of migrating to the underlying groundwater. Additional field data showed no release of contaminants to moisture within the soil. These data were used to determine that the site was suitable to be closed and that no further monitoring was required.

The soil moisture monitoring determined that there was no release of hazardous constituents above acceptable levels, and that the already accomplished cleanup activities described above were considered acceptable. 

Site Description

The Compaq Computer Corporation is located along an unpaved road in the Municipio (town) de Sabana Grande, in the southwest corner of the Commonwealth. The character of the surrounding land is generally rural, with the nearest residence located about ½-mile from the site. The site is situated on top of a steep-sided hill which is part of a narrow, northeasterly trending ridge.

The site contains the remains of an irregularly-shaped impoundment with a total area of 0.55 acre. The impoundment consists of four earthen-walled lagoons.

A closed municipal landfill, operated by the Municipality of Sabana Grande, is located adjacent to the southeast edge of the site. Construction of the lagoons began in 1977. They were three to 12 feet deep, but have now been filled and the surface graded flat. The lagoons were used solely for the disposal of metal hydroxide sludge, generated by Digital Equipment Corporation's San German facility as part of its electroplating operations.

In 1984, a major portion of this hydroxide sludge was sold to a metals reclamation company. No waste material has been placed in the lagoons since 1984.

The Compaq Computer Corporation acquired Digital Equipment Corporation in June 1998 and was subsequently acquired by the Hewlett-Packard Corporation. 

Contaminants at this Facility

The major potential threat has been the result of the unintended release of contaminants from the hazardous waste disposed in the lagoons into the soil and fractured rock beneath the facility and into the contained ground water. These contaminants consist of metals associated with the metal hydroxides. These metals are copper, chromium, nickel, and lead. Arsenic and mercury have also been identified. The ground water occurs at a depth of about 200 feet and is not used for drinking in this area.

Site Responsibility at this Facility

The site has never had an interim permit and there is no anticipated application for a permit. The site was determined to be closed on July 3, 2003. Wastes remaining at the site are in concentrations that would make the site suitable for industrial use. An institutional control will be maintained for the site, in the form of a deed of a restrictive covenant with the City of Sabana Grande, indicating to future site owners that hazardous waste was formally managed on the site, indicating the presence of residual contamination, and indicating the limitation of future site use.

Cleanup at this site has been addressed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under authority of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).