Friday, March 4, 2011

Cancer Cluster Sparks Town Discussion

By Deanna Dunsmuir

An open meeting was held in Pompton Lakes on Wednesday to discuss resident concerns of basement vapors and elevated cancer rates compared with other towns.

These concerns were heightened by a cancer study by the Society of Interventional Radiology, that concluded that certain cancer rates, such as lung and colorectal cancer, were found to be statistically elevated in Pompton Lakes residents, as reported by the New Jersey Department of Health.

This data however failed to directly link the elevated cancer levels to the soil contamination.

The analysis was conducted in response to a request by Mayor Katie Cole, who wanted answers for residents living above a plume of contamination, reported

Long History of Cleanups

The former E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company Pompton Lakes Works (DuPont
PLW)operated from 1902 to 1994. The company left the town in 1995, beginning years of cleanups and research pertaining to soil and water contamination and medical disorders of residents. The Company worked on explosives and the chemicals left behind have been linked to elevated levels of cancers.

The dangers that arose from the explosives making company came from run-off migration,into local streams and the underground aquifer, and as a result, soil vapor intrusion into a number of homes.

The Dangers of Soil Vapor

Soil vapor can enter buildings through cracks in foundation, pump wells and through household piping. The NJDEP has ordered indoor air testing for households in the area. The installation of a vapor mitigation system in households affected by the contamination are supplied free of cost to residents by DuPont. The system is said to reduce risks of vapor contamination, however the life-span of the fan is 8-10, as reported by the NJDEP.

The life-span of the fans decrease if near moist air, which most residents exhibit due to their close proximity to the water.

Although the chemical remediation is being paid for by Dupont, residents have also raised the concern that some property taxes in the area exceed the mortgage rates for homeowners. Given the high flood risk for homes near a stream from the plant site, the soil contamination and the elevated levels of cancer in the area- some residents wonder who is really footing the bill.

Organizing for Answers

As talks of contamination from the DuPont/Pompton Lakes works exceed 15 years, townspeople continue to demand answers and feasible solutions. Town meetings continue to be held, such as the Wednesday public discussion, to share information and ask questions of officials.

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