By Katie Lukshis
By request of the residents of Pompton Lakes, DuPont set up a information center in the downtown area earlier in March to provide more information about cleanup efforts. Pressure also came from federal, state and local officials to improve communications with residents. The information center will be staffed by a contractor that has been affiliated with the DuPont site for many years, as well once a week visits from David Kluesner, the EPA’s community liaison on the Pompton-DuPont cleanup. The EPA had stepped up its oversight of cleanup efforts along with the Department of Environmental Protection, after residents had asked for a more permanent presence in Pompton Lakes from the two agencies.
Kluesner is aware of the distrust residents have towards DuPont and expects some to be unhappy with the information center. He believes the polluter should pay for the information center and not the taxpayers, but community involvement is crucial in order to get the cleanup completed. DuPont has assured Kluesner that they will provide separate space in the center for EPA residents to meet privately with residents over their concerns.
Residents have been expressing their distrust of the company and its attempts at fixing their mistakes. One resident, Darcy Kamp, affected by groundwater contamination from the DuPont site described this as "just another ploy by DuPont, allowed by our borough officials, to pretend to care", as reported by James O’Neill and Elaine D’Aurizio from The Record. Resident and former Pompton Lakes councilwoman Lisa Riggiola has brought up a point worth mentioning: "Where has the polluter been for the last two decades?" she asked. "Where were they when I requested a public update meeting in 2007 for the residents?", as reported by James O’Neill and Elaine D’Aurizio. Many other residents share the same concerns and voice their opinions every chance they get.
After the information center had opened up, residents protested outside against the fact that DuPont set up the center and the EPA did not open it’s own neutral site. Protesters did not want to talk to EPA officials in an office created by the source of their problems, even though they would have a representative in the office one day a week. Kluesner had commented that if residents did not want to meet at the office, EPA staff would be available to meet elsewhere in the town.
Residents want DuPont to pay for all the damage they’ve done.. not just to their town but to their community of families. DuPont officials were frustrated about the protest, not understanding why the people are so against the information center and getting DuPont’s perspective in terms of cleanup. Project director for DuPont’s Pompton Lakes site David Epps has stated "We've been told to do this by local, state and federal officials, and we think it's the right thing to do,”, as reported by James O’Neill.
DuPont has already purchased a four-year lease on the information center in the downtown area, and will continue their long-term commitment to cleanup efforts and to the community.
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