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Tutu Wellfield on St. Thomas to Receive $14M for Cleanup Project, EPA Announces

As part of President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the Tutu Wellfield on St. Thomas is among over 100 sites across the country getting more than $1 billion for cleanup projects, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced.

This funding is made possible by the president’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. It will launch new cleanup projects at 25 Superfund sites and continue other cleanups at over 85 Superfund sites, according to the press release.

Thousands of contaminated sites exist nationally due to hazardous waste being dumped, left out in the open, or otherwise improperly managed. These sites can include toxic chemicals from manufacturing facilities, processing plants, landfills and mining, and can harm the health and well-being of local communities in urban and rural areas. More than one in four Black and Hispanic Americans live within three miles of a Superfund site, the press release stated.

“While we have addressed much of the risk posed by Tutu Wellfields, this funding will help us complete the job by addressing more recently discovered contamination that is spreading slowly over time,” said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “This investment in America and in the U.S. Virgin Islands builds on the historic progress we have already made in recent years to ensure that communities living near the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned contaminated sites get the protections they deserve.”

“Today marks a historic moment for the U.S. Virgin Islands as we celebrate the inclusion of the Tutu Wellfield in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law championed by President Biden. This legislation is a beacon of hope, promising to breathe new life into our environmental restoration efforts. With this law, USEPA is poised to launch critical cleanup projects at 25 Superfund sites, including the Tutu Wellfield, and continue ongoing efforts at over 85 Superfund sites. Our commitment to safeguarding our land, water, and air is unwavering, and this funding will empower us to address contamination, restore ecosystems, and protect public health,” said Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.

“I extend my deepest gratitude to President Biden and his administration, and all those who worked tirelessly to make this legislation a reality. Let us move forward with purpose, knowing that our actions today shape the legacy we leave behind. The U.S. Virgin Islands is ready to lead the way toward a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable future,” the governor said.

“President Biden’s vision of making major investments to build resilience against climate change continues to come to fruition here in our territory with another award from the Inflation Reduction Act. The Tutu Wellfield in St. Thomas has long posed significant environmental hazards due to its industrial contamination, and I commend the EPA for identifying it for action,” said Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett. “We know that there are other sites like this one across our territory and it is my hope that this will be one of many EPA funding awards for much needed environmental remediation in the Virgin Islands.”

The Tutu Wellfield site is located in Anna’s Retreat on St. Thomas. The site was used for textile manufacturing and industrial-scale dry cleaning from 1969-1978. Industrial waste, including spent dry-cleaning waste, drums, and floor drain discharge were released from the site and contaminated groundwater with chlorinated volatile organic compounds, including Trichloroethylene, Tetrachloroethylene and vinyl chloride. EPA constructed a groundwater treatment facility in 2004 to address contaminated groundwater. In 2018, EPA determined that this system needed to be expanded and enhanced, the release stated.

EPA BIL funding will be used to expand the existing groundwater pump and treat system to include additional wells and upgrade all existing treatment equipment to accommodate additional flow rates and address the source of contamination more efficiently. The work to expand and enhance the system is estimated to cost about $14 million, it said.

The investment is the final wave of funding from the $3.5 billion allocated for Superfund cleanup work in the president’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. So far, EPA has deployed over $2 billion for cleanup activities at over 150 Superfund National Priorities List sites. Thanks to Biden’s commitment to addressing legacy pollution and improving public health, EPA has been able to provide as much funding for cleanup work in the past two years as it did in the previous five years while delivering on Biden’s  Justice40 Initiative, which set a goal to provide 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution, according to the release.

To view a list of the 25 sites to receive funding for new cleanup projects, visit EPA’s Superfund webpage.

To see highlights from the first two years of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding at Superfund sites, visit EPA’s Cleaning Up Superfund Sites: Highlights of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding website.

For more information about EPA’s Superfund program, visit EPA’s Superfund website.

Follow EPA Region 2 on X and the Facebook page. For more information about EPA Region 2, visit the official website.

 

 

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