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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Puma Energy Caribe, LLC in Bayamon, Puerto Rico

On this page:

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

Cleanup Status

In 1995, the former owner and operator, Caribbean Petroleum Refining LP (CPR) entered with EPA into a RCRA Administrative Order of Consent under Section 3008(h) (II RCRA-95-3008(h)-0303) to conduct corrective action at 22 Solid Waste Management Units (SWMUs), 12 Areas of Concern (AOCs), closure of the equalization basin and recovery of free-phase hydrocarbons from groundwater. As a result of the October 23, 2009 explosion and fire at the terminal, Puma Energy LLC (Puma) entered into an agreement with EPA (RCRA-02-2011-7305) amending the 1995 Order and included the implementation of a more holistic approach to Corrective Action.

Closure of Equalization Basin
The equalization basin, which was a major source of contamination at the facility, underwent approved RCRA closure in August 1999. EPA approved the closure on December 3, 1999. Closure entailed dewatering the basin, stabilizing the residual sludge, backfilling the basin, installing an impermeable clay and flexible membrane liner cap, installing drainage layer, and installing a vegetative cover, followed by semiannual groundwater sampling.

Interim Corrective Measures
CPR installed an Underground Recovery System (URS), which operated until October 2009 after been completely destroyed in the explosion and fire. Sixty (60) monitoring wells were routinely pumped to collect free-phase hydrocarbons of which twenty-two (22) were equipped with pneumatic ejector pumps that operated continuously in the most contaminated part of the groundwater aquifer. Three-hundred to seven-hundred gallons of free product were recovered per month. Between October 1991 and October 2009 over 70,000 gallons of free-phase hydrocarbons were recovered from groundwater and recycled back into the facility's process stream when the refinery was operating or sold as product.

Entire site
In February 2014 Puma conducted a Site-wide RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI). In 2015 a supplemental RFI was also conducted to address data gaps reported in the 2014 RFI. EPA granted approval of the RFI in February 2016. Since early 2017 Puma and EPA have been working together evaluating remedial alternatives for the Site. 

In February 2018 Puma submitted to EPA the final Corrective Action Objectives (CAOs) and Remedial Strategy document for the Site. The proposed remedy consists of a combination of Monitoring Natural Attenuation (MNA) of contaminants in groundwater and establishment of institutional and/or administrative controls to prevent exposure of workers with contaminated soil and groundwater. It should be noted that EPA’s “RCRA FIRST Toolbox” was employed to streamline and expedite the remedy selection process. After a 45-day period of public comments, which included a public meeting held on July 21, 2018, EPA has granted approval of the remedy selected for the Site on August 21, 2018.

Site Description

Puma Energy Caribe LLC (Puma) is located in the Luchetti Industrial Park in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. The site is bounded to the west and southwest by industrial and commercial facilities, and to the south and east by Fort Buchanan, a U.S. military reservation. It encompasses approximately 179 acres. The facility is divided into four general areas: tank farm, process, administration, and wastewater treatment plant areas.

Petroleum refining operations at the site, 48,000 barrels a day, commenced in 1955 and ended in 2000. From 2000 to 2009, CPR operated as petroleum product storage and distribution facility until the October 2009 explosion incident. Puma Energy Caribe, LLC acquired the property on May 11, 2011. The refinery was demolished by PUMA between 2012 and 2013 in accordance with the requirements of the “Agreement and Order of Consent for Demolition” (CERCLA-02-2011-2003) between EPA and PUMA in May 2011.

Hazardous wastes historically managed at the site include primary oil/water/solids separation sludge (F037), secondary oil/water/solids separation sludge (F038), slop oil emulsion solids (K049), heat exchanger bundle solids (K050), API separator sludge (K051), ignitable waste (D001), and toxicity characteristic (benzene) wastewater (D018).

Contaminants at this Facility

The approved RFI Report of 2016 and the 2015 Supplemental RFI reports conducted by Puma found that arsenic and total petroleum hydrocarbons are present in onsite soils at the Facility. However, only arsenic is the only contaminant of concern found above Industrial Risk Screening Levels (RSLs) and the soil background concentration of 45 mg/kg. The RFI also found that groundwater is contaminated with arsenic, vanadium, lead, mercury, naphthalene, methyl tert butyl ether (MTBE), benzo(a)anthracene, benzene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, trichloroethene (TCE), vinyl chloride, chloroform, cis-1,2-dichloroethene (DCE), and 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane at concentrations exceeding EPA’s Tap Water RSLs and/or Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) at several monitoring well locations.

Site Responsibility at this Facility

Cleanup at this site is being addressed by Puma Energy with oversight from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under authority of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board (EQB) also participates with EPA in the investigation and cleanup decision-making and oversight.

In 1995, EPA and CPR signed an Administrative Order on Consent (Order) requiring CPR to conduct a RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI) and Corrective Measure Study (CMS). Puma replaced CPR as the party responsible for implementing remaining obligations under the 1995 Order, as modified by an Agreement between EPA and Puma Energy Caribe, LLC signed on May 11, 2011.