Wednesday, March 6, 2013

DuPont Appeals EPA Cleanup Plan for Pompton Lake

By Nick Bower

The long-awaited DuPont cleanup of contaminated sediment in Pompton Lake will have to be put on hold for a just a little bit longer.

On Jan. 15, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a community presentation for their final plan for the DuPont cleanup. The EPA’s plan calls for 100 thousand cubic yards of soil and contaminated sediments to be cleared from 40 acres in Pompton Lake, as well as DuPont being required to test for contamination outside of the designated area and to monitor the lake long-term.

However, DuPont had a Feb. 4 deadline to appeal the plan, and on February 1 they announced that they plan to do just that. According to DuPont, they should only be responsible for cleaning up 68 thousand cubic yards of soil and contaminated sediments from 26 acres, and that there is no outlines for the long-term monitoring of Pompton Lake.

"Our decision to pursue an appeal does not lessen our commitment to the community, nor our desire to begin work on the remedy in the lake as quickly as possible,” Bob Nelson, DuPont spokesperson, told “Our goal would be to start the project in 2014, provided we can obtain the necessary permits. While the appeal is being reviewed, DuPont will meet with local and state officials to pursue approval of existing permit applications.”   

Two weeks later, news broke that would appear to be good news for both the town of Pompton Lakes and DuPont. Federal officials verified that no uranium was used at the DuPont Pompton Lakes site during their 92 years of manufacturing munitions.

In 1974, the U.S Atomic Energy Commission established the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program that was intended to list all companies that used uranium, and DuPont was never listed. The EPA is certain that because those companies were tracked very closely, that if they had used uranium, they would be on the list.

Although uranium was detected during tests during the initial cleanup, the EPA believes that the uranium is part of naturally-occurring radioactivity from the Earth’s crust. However, DuPont used tunnels to test their explosives, and those tunnels have yet to be tested, and some citizens believe that those tunnels could be the source of the uranium.

In an unrelated development, DuPont was named by Fortune magazine on Feb. 28 as one of the world’s top 50 most admired companies. Coming in at number 41, DuPont has made the list for the fourth consecutive year, despite having numerous environmental, tax evasion and lobbying controversies on their resume.

The EPA has 45 days to review and respond to DuPont’s appeal as of Feb.4, so more updates are expected to develop sometime in mid to late March.

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