Thursday, March 10, 2011

Industrial Responsibility and Residents’ Worries

By John Clancey

Industries are a funny thing; often times it brings a community to life, gives people a reason to come together. However, the industry that makes a town can often break a town; such is the dilemma with Pompton lakes NJ. After two decades of cleanups, residents have expressed concerns over health issues and property values.

Since 1902, DuPont, a munitions manufacture, has operated amongst the scenic foot hills of the Ramapo Mountains of New Jersey. Pompton Lakes, where DuPont located their munitions factory, saw much growth throughout both world wars one and two. Gradually, DuPont become one of the strongest and most successful companies in the world. However, like many other industrial powerhouses, DuPont has had its fair share of experience when it comes to improperly disposing of hazardous materials.

The materials left over from the DuPont munitions factory have infiltrated the town’s already complicated system of ground water. Chemicals such as PCE and TCE were found in contaminated residential areas, both chemicals being linked to cancer. These heavy sediments entered private residences via fumes from the basements. In 1993, the industrial scares ran as deep as to instigate over 400 residents to file a lawsuit against DuPont for health and propriety damages. In 1997 DuPont settled out of court for 38.5 million dollars.

It’s a terrifying thought, to be afraid of the very air you breathe. To worry that your young child is risking brain damage by playing with Lego’s in the den. When heavy sediments of that type settle into the ground, they spread across the region’s ground water, contaminating the area.

Recently, DuPont has called for all residents of Pompton Lakes living in contaminated areas to install filters in their basement with the hopes of removing dangerous chemicals that are still left over from their promised cleanup that was started twenty years earlier. The idea of filters doesn’t sit very well with residents, as many of them are concerned about what the negative connotation will do to their property values. "I love the town.” said resident Jim Curran, “We both grew up here, but I wouldn’t have bought this house if I knew then what I know now."

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