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The 70-acre Prewitt Abandoned Refinery site is located near Prewitt, New Mexico. The refinery operated between 1938 and 1957. The refinery and other site structures came down; however, scattered demolished structures, foundations and exposed fill remained on the site. Refinery operations contaminated soil and groundwater with hazardous chemicals. The remedy for surface media is complete. Subsurface media may require additional cleanup.

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What Is Being Done to Clean Up the Site?

The site is being addressed through federal, state and potentially responsible party (PRP) actions. Remediation of groundwater at the site will reduce environmental risks in the future for people living near the site, including Navajo tribes.

EPA has conducted several five-year reviews of the site’s remedy. These reviews ensure that the remedies put in place protect public health and the environment, and function as intended by site decision documents. The most recent review concluded that response actions at the site are in accordance with the remedy selected by EPA and that the remedy for surface media is complete and continues to be protective of human health and the environment. The remedy for subsurface media continues to be protective in the short term; however, a long-term determination could not be made. The review raises concerns about the enforceability of existing deed restrictions under the laws of the State of New Mexico. Additionally, the review recommends new evaluations to characterize the quantity, composition and extent of various contaminants and exposure pathways at the site. The review recommends the evaluation of an alternative cleanup plan to enhance protectiveness at the site.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

The site’s long-term remedy for surface media included excavation and off-site disposal of asbestos-containing materials, lead-contaminated soil and separator contents, and removal and disposal of the separator structure. The site’s long-term remedy for the subsurface media included soil vapor extraction, contaminated groundwater migration control, groundwater remediation by extraction, treatment and re-injection, and use of a nutrient injection system to enhance in-place biodegradation. The remedy for the surface media is complete. Subsurface media may require additional cleanup.

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EPA’s Involvement at the Site

A refinery operated at the site from 1938 to 1957. In July 1957, the plant closed and the refinery and accompanying structures came down. Remnants and debris remained, including piping, waste pits, a separator structure and other structural material. Scattered, demolished structures and foundations, sparse desert vegetation, and exposed fill covered the site.

The site is located in a rural area. About 50 to 75 people live within a one-mile radius of the site. Directly east of the north portion of the site, there are two occupied homes. Previously there were six homes, but the PRPs purchased four of the properties and tore down the homes after the residents relocated. Groundwater from the Sonsela Sandstone Units in the area of the site is used by two residences directly east of the north end of the site. The Navajo Nation, Baca Chapter has a well located west of the old refinery area.

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