Hazardous Waste Cleanup: GE Industrial of PR, LLC in Patillas, Puerto Rico
On this page:
- Cleanup Status
- Site Description
- Contaminants at this Facility
- Site Responsibility
The site is being addressed by GE, under EPA oversight, in two measures: Interim Corrective Measures and long-term corrective measures directed at the cleanup of the entire site.
The French Sump and some of the surrounding soil were removed from the facility in 1990. The intent of the ICMs was to remove the source of the organic solvent contamination in the groundwater. Following the removal, the site of the sump was inspected and filled back in with soil.
GE has been subject to several investigations over the years, culminating in the completion of a RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI) in 1991. The RFI called for the installation of a groundwater monitoring well network in order to determine the extent of migration of the chlorinated solvents from the French Sump in the groundwater. Following completion of the RFI, work began on a Corrective Measures Study (CMS) to evaluate possible methods of remediation to address the groundwater plume of chlorinated solvents.
However, based upon careful studies by both EPA contractor and EPA’s own experts of past investigations and data collected so far, EPA required additional groundwater investigation. GE performed additional sampling efforts that included groundwater modeling, installation of off-site wells and the sampling of Río Grande de Patillas. Additionally, while delineation of the plume is completed, EPA required interim corrective measures to prevent migration of the chlorinated plume. GE submitted an interim corrective measures plan and EPA approved it in October 2013.
The French Sump and some of the surrounding soil were removed from the facility in 1990. The intent of the ICM was to remove the source of the organic solvent contamination in the groundwater. Following the removal, the site of the sump was inspected and filled back in with soil.
After the Interim Corrective Measures (ICM) to remove the French Sump was completed, contamination levels in the groundwater should improve over time. The groundwater monitoring network installed to monitor the chlorinated solvents. The plume is sampled quarterly. This data is used to determine if the source of the chlorinated solvents, the former French Sump, has been fully remediated. The monitoring data is also used to evaluate the contaminated plume itself, to see if it is improving or worsening over time.
The 2005 RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI) indicates that there are chlorinated solvents (i.e., DCE and TCA) migrating away from the location of the former French Sump. While the Corrective Measures Study (CMS) is only in a draft stage, there are several suggested remedies to address the groundwater plume. CMS is now put on hold until satisfactory understanding has been achieved regarding plume characterization. Meanwhile, an interim corrective measures plan was submitted by GE to prevent further migration.
In March 4, 2014, the RCRA Facility investigation was approved after a period of public comments. No public comments were received. The Facility is now performing the Corrective Measures Study.
The GE Industrial of PR, LLC (GE) facility is located along State Road 3 at kilometer 122.9, in Patillas. The facility was purchased by Caribe GE Products - Patillas in 1974 from the Kaiser Roth Corporation, and operated by Caribe GE until 1987. The plant was reopened in 1993 with its name changed from Caribe GE Products - Patillas to GE Puerto Rico Investment Inc., and has been involving manufacturing of electromechanical devices. Operations ceased in June 2010.
The manufacturing processes before 1987 included metal electroplating, stamping and cutting operations. GE used a number of industrial chlorinated solvents in their manufacturing process and also generated wastewater containing metals. The area surrounding GE is largely used for agriculture, mostly for growing sugar cane. To the east of the facility, there is some residential development.
Contaminants at this Facility
The current source of contaminants is the former location of a French Sump, a rock filled pit with a concrete cover. This pit was used from 1977 to 1980 for disposal of a significant quantity (perhaps more than 10,000 gallons) of oils and solvents. These contaminants present a threat to the groundwater aquifer underneath the facility. This threat is magnified by the fact that the local aquifer has been used for the public water supply.
In fact, in 1985, a PRASA well for public drinking water (200 feet down gradient hydro-geologically from the GE facility) was shut down because of the elevated levels of DCE, the same types of solvents used by GE, were discovered in the water. Groundwater monitoring wells were installed to observe if the contaminants from the French Sump were migrating. These wells provide further evidence that chlorinated solvents have been moving down-gradient from the source location.
Site Responsibility at this Facility
GE in Patillas has never held an operating permit. When the facility was active, GE operated under interim status. When GE decided to close their sludge drying beds in 1983, they were required to develop a closure plan to ensure that the sludge drying beds did not constitute a threat to the environment. This closure plan was approved in 1987 and called for removal of the sludge and installation of another groundwater monitoring well network specific to this area. Based on post-closure groundwater monitoring, in April 18, 2005 EPA granted clean closure of the sludge drying beds.
The cleanup at this site is being addressed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under authority of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). However, the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB) also participates with EPA in cleanup decision-making and oversight.