Thursday, March 18, 2010

News Update: DuPont and Pompton Lakes

By Tara Lafemina

The people of Pompton Lakes have been struggling for years with the mess DuPont left behind. The town has decided to come together to fight the injustice they are up against.

DuPont has been trying to convince the local people that they are doing their job. In a local newspaper, DuPont has an entire page ad dedicated to praising the cleanup stating they have been cleaning up for the past 20 years. The ad says that the company has removed over 20,000 tons of contaminated soil.

For the people of Pompton Lakes, a full page ad is not enough.

There is evidence that at least 450 homes are still in danger. These houses are at risk of being exposed to mercury, lead, contaminated water and soil and a plume of toxic vapor. Other citizens of Pompton Lakes may see the dangers in Acid Brook, that runs near the DuPont site. The name Acid Brook comes from the multiple color variation of the water, depending upon what chemical is in it.

Some people of the town are loyal to the corporation that gave them a career; others are just annoyed with the pollution that was a result of the DuPont plant. No matter which side a resident finds themselves supporting, they all can agree that the environmental issues are worth worrying about.

The recent spike of resident activity against DuPont started two years ago. Lisa Riggiola and Regina Sisco formed Citizens for a Clean Pompton Lakes. The discovery of the dangerous plume was enough to push these two friends over the edge. They knew they had to act fast if they wanted anything to change.

Citizens for a Clean Pompton Lakes caught the attention of the politically powerful Representative William J Pascrell Jr, who wrote to the E.P.A in late 2009. He called to their attention, “the serious public health concern that needs immediate attention.”

In January 2010, another letter was written by Rep. Pascrell. It stated a demand that the E.P.A. use federal resources available to Pompton Lakes. Residents want an environmental team in the town five days a week that will monitor the chemicals and air quality.

Environmental officers answered that residents can have an independent vapor mitigation contractor. The installed devices will prevent dangerous gasses of the toxic plume from entering houses. Out of the 450 at-risk homes, DuPont has only installed 170 of them with a vapor mitigation contractor.

Bob Nelson, spokesman for DuPont, thinks that the long-term problems will not be easy to fix. The pollution will take years to clean up. “Our intention is to do right by the people of the town, and DuPont is not going anywhere until the contamination is remediated,” he said.

For now, Citizens for a Clean Pompton Lakes still have to fight for federal assistance and to get DuPont to fully clean up the mess.

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