By Sharon Meyer
The DuPont factory in Pompton Lakes has been manufacturing explosives there since the 19th century, according to Pompton Lakes History website. At that site, making gunpowder left numerous toxins that eventually leaked into the water and soil of the surrounding area.
Now the residents of Pompton Lakes are suffering from the aftermath of what DuPont has left behind; cleanup or no clean up, residents over the years have become ill at an alarming rate. Many of the illnesses have been related to cancer and two types of specific cancers in Pompton Lakes remain prominent. DuPont has taken action to clean up its mess, but not enough to calm angry residents. "In 1993, about 400 people filed suit against the company, claiming illness, fear of developing cancer and lower property values because of pollution. In 1997, without admitting liability, DuPont settled out of court for $38.5 million,” wrote Brian Murray in the Star Ledger.
Over the years consistent work has been done by the residents of the town, the EPA, and other environmental organizations to make sure that the area of pollution is being cleaned up for the future safety and health of the people who reside there, but not everyone feels as if it is safe enough. As reported in December, 2009, "I can’t say I’m very thrilled about living here. We’re right in the bullseye," said Jim Curran, who lives on Schuyler Place with his wife and three children. "I love the town. We both grew up here, but I would not have bought this house if I knew then what I know now," he told Brian Murray from the Star Ledger.
In more recent articles this past Monday, DuPont took action by opening an information center in downtown Pompton Lakes. Its purpose is to keep residents better informed about efforts to clean up contamination at its old munitions facility and in an adjacent neighborhood, as reported by James O’Neill and and Elaine D’Aurizio, writers from the Record.
The center is proposed to be open daily and staffed by a man who has been affiliated with the DuPont site for several years, said DuPont spokesman Bob Nelson. This establishment has been decided on after DuPont had heard the voices and concerns residents who wished that the lines of communication between the company and the residents become more clear. The EPA has also become involved by having the center occupied by David Kluesner, who is the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s community liaison on the Pompton-DuPont cleanup.
The Record reports that the EPA and the State Department of Environmental Protection have been working together to increase efforts of its oversight of the necessary cleanup. The ironic part of this recent article is that DuPont who has created this information center is going to be the company who oversees it. The residents are not happy with this because of the years of distrust with DuPont. Who can blame them? After years of contaminating people’s living areas where their children play, and the same company will be running the center for clean up information. How will these people know if they are telling the truth. Only time will tell.