By Jonathan Madden
Although DuPont Explosives Co. may be recognized for it’s contribution to munitions in the world wars, local residents near the old Pompton Lakes facility are still feeling the aftermath through water contamination as evidence of higher rates of cancer in surrounding neighborhoods continue to be found.
DuPont, founded in July 1802 as a gunpowder mill, is now recognized as being the world’s second largest chemical company in terms of market capitalization and fourth in revenue. Once responsible for the creation of much of the munitions used in the world wars, it is now being held responsible for the contamination of New Jersey drinking water supplies, specifically, located near the DuPont facility in Pompton Lakes, as lawsuits begin to pile up.
Contamination of the local water supply, according to U.S. Water News Online, is linked to the manufacturing, use and disposal of dangerous chemicals such as PFOA, which are also known as carcinogens. Official DuPont press releases have continued to disregard accusations dealing with responsibility for water pollution in areas surrounding the facility, “We are confident in the safety of our operations at our Chambers Work site,” the company stated.
Through recent history DuPont has been recognized as a source of water pollution outside New Jersey as well. According to U.S. Water News Online, a report by DuPont in 2003 found that PFOA was being released into the Delaware River at high concentrations. In 2004, DuPont agreed to pay $343 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Ohio and West Virginia residents who claimed water supplies had been contaminated with PFOA from a local Dupont Plant.
Tension amongst residents who live close to the old DuPont Plant in Pompton Lakes continues to mount as the number of cancer cases continues to increase. According to a report released by the Department of Health and Senior Services, significantly elevated rates of kidney cancer in women and non-Hodgkins lymphoma in men were found in a neighborhood of 450 households which have been said to have been impacted by the pollution.
Growing concerns of DuPont’s failure to safely dispose of harmful chemicals in Pompton Lakes continue to increase. According to nj.com, in 1993, 400 people filed suit against the company, claiming illness, fear of developing cancer and lower property values because of pollution and in 1997, without admitting to any sort of liability DuPont settled out of court for $38.5 million dollars.
Seven years after, residents of Pompton Lakes and of other areas affected by the Dupont Plant remain concerned about their well-being and the state of their water supply.