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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Naval Activity Puerto Rico in Ceiba, Puerto Rico

On this page:

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

Cleanup Status

The site is being addressed through Interim Corrective Measures (ICMs), RCRA Closure, and Corrective Measures directed at final cleanup of specific units. EPA may determine, subject to public review and comment of that determination, that implemented ICMs are sufficiently protective of human health and the environment to constitute the final corrective measure for any given solid waste management unit (SWMU) or Area of Concern (AOC).  EPA and EQB are working closely with the navy to determine the appropriate response action, if necessary.  The public will be provided the opportunity for comments during the public notice phase as well as at any restoration advisory board meetings which meet quarterly and are open to the public. 

Cleanup of the Entire Site

A total of 82 "sites" have been identified at NAPR (formerly Naval Station Roosevelt Roads), which require assessments and/or investigations under the corrective action authorities of RCRA. These include 76 SWMUs and six AOCs. These SWMUs and AOCs were identified based on the 1988 RCRA Facility Assessment (RFA) performed for EPA; the 1993 "Follow-up" Visual Site Inspection (Follow-up VSI) also performed for EPA; and the 2005 Phase I/II Environmental Conditions of Property (ECP) Report prepared for the U.S. Navy in conjunction with closure and sale/transfer of the facility to the Local Reuse Authority.

On January 29, 2007, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) entered into an Administrative Order on Consent (7003 - Consent Order) with the United States Department of the Navy (the Navy). The Consent Order establishes the Navy's obligations for completing the cleanup of this large, closed military base, pursuant to the authority of the Federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act ("RCRA").

Site Description

Naval Activity Puerto Rico (NAPR), formerly U.S. Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, is located on the east coast of the island of Puerto Rico in the municipality of Ceiba, approximately 33 miles southeast of San Juan. The nearest major town is Fajardo, which is 10 miles north of the station. The facility occupies approximately 8600 acres and is bordered on all sides but to the west which is the Caribbean Sea.

As an operating base, this facility served as one of the largest Atlantic naval ports in the U.S. Navy.  As part of naval operations, the facility had a RCRA Operating Permit for storage of hazardous waste; however, that permit was terminated when the Consent Order took effect in January of 2007.  As stipulated by the Consent Order, various areas or Solid Waste Management Units (SWMUs) required investigation for releases of hazardous waste and hazardous substances to the environment. 

Currently over 6,000 acres (95%) of the former facility have now been transferred to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, its agencies, and/or local municipal governments.

Contaminants at this Facility

There are several significant areas of environmental concern; however, since groundwater is not utilized for any purposes at Roosevelt Roads, or downgradient of it, and none of the areas of environmental concern are presently utilized for residential purposes, the most significant current threats are adverse environmental impacts to the surface waters of Ensenada Honda and other marine bays and mangrove areas bordering the facility.  In addition, there is a potential human health threat for possible impacts to on-site future residents if the impacted areas were ever utilized for residential purposes. The most significant areas of environmental concern include:

  • Tow Way Fuel Farm (SWMUs 7 & 8) where past releases from product storage tanks and associated sludge burial pits have resulted in a large plume of phase separated petroleum hydrocarbons (200,000+ gallons) being present on the groundwater, and dissolved petroleum contaminant plumes are present in the groundwater. Contaminated soils are also present. An additional release, consisting of chlorinated solvent plumes in the groundwater near Tow Way Fuel Farm, though not associated with the product storage tanks and associated sludge burial pits, has recently been identified as SWMU 55.
  • Two long closed (in the late 1950's/early 1960's), unlined landfills which border the surface waters of Ensenada Honda. They are SWMU 1 (Army Cremator site) and SWMU 2 (Langley Drive disposal area). These areas had received both non-hazardous and hazardous waste.
  • A third unlined landfill (SWMU 3), which had been operating since the 1960's as the base's non-hazardous, solid waste landfill. It is located adjacent to the surface waters of the Caribbean Sea and Ensenada Honda (a marine bay), and comprises 30 acres of currently active (i.e., operating) landfill and 55 acres of inactive landfill. A cap system was completed over the landfill in February 2016.
  • The long closed thermoelectric power plant (SWMUs 11 & 45) where in the past transformer fluids containing PCBs were disposed of, and includes:
    • SWMU 11 - the interior areas of the power plant, where PCB fluids have contaminated many concrete surfaces; and asbestos containing materials are known to be present; and
    • SWMU 45 - the exterior areas of the power plant and related structures, including:
      • PCB contaminated surface and subsurface soils adjacent to a concrete pad surrounding the plant. The soils have been remediated [removed] in 1994 as an Interim Measure);
      • abandoned underground cooling water tunnels leading from the power plant to Puerca Bay (outfall identified) and Ensenada Honda [Bay], which contained PCB containing sludges, oils, and water, and were cleaned up and sealed in 1996 as an Interim Measure; and
      • two large (50,000 gallon) underground fuel storage tanks, which contained PCB containing sludges, oils, and water, and were cleaned up and sealed in 1996 as an Interim Measure.

Site Responsibility at this Facility

The Consent Order has replaced the 1994 RCRA Permit as the document memorializing these obligations concerning the Naval Activity Puerto Rico (formerly Naval Station Roosevelt Roads) base.

The site is being cleaned up under Federal authority, with EPA the lead agency. However, the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB) participates with EPA in cleanup decision making and oversight.