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2016-09-15

Bexar County site of EPA’s ‘most contaminated’

Contributed

Administrators with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced the El Dorado Chemical Co. site outside of San Antonio will be added to the Superfund program’s National Priorities List (NPL) of the nation’s most contaminated sites.
“Cleaning up the El Dorado site will help protect people living in the area and the delicate ecology of the Edwards Aquifer,” said Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “Adding the site to the NPL will allow EPA to achieve those goals.”
The site is located in the suburb of Live Oak, in Bexar County, northwest of San Antonio. The former cleaning product manufacturing site contains soil and groundwater contaminated with chlorinated solvents including tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene, dichloroethene and vinyl chloride.
If not addressed, the contaminants could harm the Edwards Aquifer, which provides drinking water to 215,722 local residents. Tetrachloroethylene is considered a potential human carcinogen. Animal studies have shown exposure over long periods could cause other effects in the liver and kidneys and changes in brain chemistry.
Nationwide, EPA added 10 sites to the NPL and proposed to add eight other. EPA adds sites to the NPL when mismanagement of contamination threatens public health and the environment. EPA typically initiates Superfund involvement at a site because states, tribes or citizens ask for the agency’s help. The agency may also find contamination during its own investigations.
These sites can threaten the health of entire communities with short-term or long-term risks. Some groups of people, such as children, pregnant women and the elderly, may be at particular risk.
Ecosystems at Superfund sites can be harmed when contaminants accumulate in plants and animals, reducing survival and growth rates, altering the composition of species in an area, seriously damaging or destroying the ecosystem, and rendering fish, shellfish, game and plants inedible. Also, activities at some sites have resulted in destruction of vegetation and topsoil, increasing risks of flooding and storm damage.
Superfund cleanups benefit the health of those who live on or near Superfund sites. Academic research has shown these cleanups reduce birth defects close to a site by as much as 25 percent. When EPA cleans up a site or a portion of a site, it frequently returns to beneficial uses.
More than 850 Superfund sites nationwide have some type of actual or planned reuse underway.
For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for the final and proposed sites, visit
http://www.epa.gov/superfund/current-npl-updates-new-proposed-npl-sites-and-new-npl-sites.
Information about Superfund and the NPL is available at http://www.epa.gov/superfund.