By Molly Rothberg
POMPTON LAKES -– It’s been 24 years plus since DuPont has been cleaning up a toxic mess, and many residents are convinced that the rises in illnesses in their community are due to the DuPont pollution. Residents who live above a toxic groundwater plume are being asked by the state to take a health survey, with information that will hopefully add to the general health image that the state has been trying to view for quite some time.
A recent article in The Record, “DuPont Mess Lingers in Pompton Lakes,” stated a list of studies that were produced by New Jersey regarding the Pompton Lakes residents.
“Cancer hospitalizations, emergency room visits for nervous system diseases, mortality, cancer, birth defects, low birth weight, premature birth rates and elevated lead levels in children. Female residents who lived above the contaminated groundwater experienced a significantly higher rate of kidney cancer and male residents a significantly higher rate of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma than other people in the state. The ER visits and cancer hospitalizations for the Pompton Lakes group topped rates for the state and six surrounding towns,” the article noted.
The DuPont Pompton Lakes Works (PLW), a now-closed manufacturing site located in the boroughs of Pompton Lakes and Wanaque, covers a little more than 570 acres. During the PLW’s plant’s operations, which included making armaments in World Wars I and II, the company produced blasting caps and explosives over a 92-year period. Many chemicals were produced during the manufacturing process which eventually caused them to spill onto the grounds and in groundwater of residential areas of Pompton Lakes.
In the 1990’s, DuPont instituted a ground-water monitoring program in which they routinely sample and report the results for on-site and off-site facilities. At the plant site, a pump and treat system was operated to filter about eight million gallons per month of likely contaminated water.
An investigation into the groundwater pollution was done by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As a result, sub-slab vapor samples were collected from the soil beneath homes in the local community and eventually both the NJDEP and EPA told DuPont to conduct an indoor air sampling and install a vapor mitigation system at no cost for the homeowners.
Residents remain upset with the lingering process, and DuPont continues to contribute various efforts to the local community. In order to preserve the history of the borough of Pompton Lakes, DuPont contributed a federal grant fund. Additionally, DuPont supports the business improvement and is a member of the Chamber of Commerce. They continue to contribute to the community by paying $500,000 per year in local taxes.