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EPA Updates Cleanup Plan for Tutu Wellfield Superfund Site In St. Thomas

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it has proposed modifications to its 2018 cleanup plan at the Tutu Wellfield Superfund site on St. Thomas.

Previous industrial and commercial activities at the site contaminated the soil and groundwater with chlorinated volatile organic compounds. EPA’s proposed action expands and enhances the groundwater cleanup system that is currently operating at the site and updates costs associated with the cleanup.

“This proposal will amplify the capability of the existing groundwater pump and treat system to better capture and address the sources of contamination in the groundwater, which will better protect the community’s health,” said acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan. “This update enhances the proposed 2018 groundwater cleanup plan to reflect the results of recent residential and site-wide well samples.”

The 1.5 square-mile site is in the Anna’s Retreat section of St. Thomas. In response to past releases of hazardous substances from area businesses, EPA required each responsible party to address soil contamination on their respective properties as well as the groundwater contamination that came from their respective operations. EPA also conducted a soil cleanup at the Virgin Islands Department of Education Curriculum Center and constructed a system to pump and treat groundwater, which began operation in 2004. The U.S. Virgin Islands government is currently running this system.

EPA’s proposed cleanup plan in this action would add additional wells to extract groundwater from more of the areas that have been determined to be sources of contamination and thus make the system more effective. The cleanup proposal also includes reinjection of treated, clean groundwater to create an underground barrier downgradient of the source area. In addition, the proposal calls for long-term monitoring of the groundwater and restrictions on its
use in the vicinity of the site.

EPA will accept public comment on the proposed plan from July 14 to August 13, 2021. A prerecorded presentation for the Proposed Plan will be available to the public via YouTube starting on July 14, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. Atlantic Standard Time. To subscribe to the Tutu Wellfield email list and receive a link to the pre-recorded presentation, contact Donette Samuel, Community Involvement Coordinator, at samuel.donette@epa.gov. To access the proposed plan and a prerecorded presentation on or after its release date, please visit: www.epa.gov/superfund/tutuwellfield.

Written comments on the proposed plan must be postmarked or emailed no later than August 13, 2021 to: Caroline Kwan, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 290 Broadway, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866, or kwan.caroline@epa.gov

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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