Friday, March 11, 2011

Dupont: Pompton Lakes Revisited

By Graig Mihok

It has been almost a year since the toxic tort unit of Weitz and Luxenberg filed their cases for the residents of Pompton Lakes against DuPont. Decades of pollution from DuPont's now closed plant in Pompton Lakes has seeped into the soil, water, and recently with the vapor intrusion reports, the air.

Residents have been down this road with DuPont in 2003 and 2004 in an attempt to right the wrongs. After settlements and waivers, DuPont now claims that the residents signed their rights away to seek any further damages, meanwhile accepting no responsibility for wrong doings. The residents newest cases against DuPont are the first since 2008 based on new information about the cancer-causing agents that have vaporized through the soil into neighborhood basements.

DuPont has been doing everything they can, including a motion to the U.S. District Court in Newark, to release the claims of about 100 residents who had settled years ago. Through their lawyers, the residents are trying to make the case that the releases should not apply because the older settlements were based around lead and mercury contamination and not the newer vapor issue. Only fewer than a dozen of the 400 residents involved in the new case filed personal injury claims, arguing their illnesses come from the vaporized solvents.

Meanwhile, the community has been taking action in regards to the illnesses it feels were caused from the vapor intrusion. Pompton Lakes Community Advisory Group for Health Member Lisa Riggiola has requested a list of chemicals related to the DuPont site and the health implications of these chemicals to human organs. An updated cancer incidence analysis will take place in late March for the Barbara Drive area specifically, scanning for brain cancer and tumors.

The newer case centers around TCE and PCE, two solvents that DuPont used heavily during the 20th century at the former munitions plant in Pompton Lakes. At some point the solvents made their way into the groundwater beneath about 450 homes in the area. TCE and PCE have been linked to both kidney cancer and non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Weitz and Luxenberg argues that “DuPont was a major manufacturer of PCE between the 1930's and and at least the mid 1980's. As such, DuPont was expert in the characteristics and handling of PCE and chemicals with similar properties, and knew or should have known of the then developing science relating to such.”

DuPont claims that its procedures complied with “state-of-the-art knowledge in waste disposal remediation practices,“ and that these practices complied with federal state and local regulation. $35.8 million was offered by DuPont in 1997 to claim filing residents near Acid Brook, but ended up only paying between $70,000 and $80,000 to those who settled.

An illustration of vapor intrusion in homes:

Source: White River Toxic Action Committee


  1. Get really creative!

    Dupont and the “Compact Majority” in Pompton Lakes – Where Life Imitates Art

  2. Great piece. I'm gathering info on the Pompton Lakes pollution and this was super helpful. I'll make sure to use you as a source for my article. Keep up the great work.