Wednesday, March 13, 2013

DuPont Extending a Helping Hand

By Bill Pivetz 

DuPont has been a part of Pompton Lakes for over a century.  They have been manufacturing explosives since 1902 when the Delaware-based company acquired Laflin & Rand. They made huge quantities of gunpowder when the United States entered World War I. “Employment was increased from 300 to a wartime high workforce of more than 7,500 employees who were involved in producing blasting caps, detonating fuses, boosters, primer and an unknown quantity of hand and rifle grenades,” according to a local history. 

Because of this, Pompton Lakes became a “company town” and houses were built for workers. The explosives plant was also an integral part of World War II. Hundreds of workers were transported by bus loads from Jersey City, Elizabeth, Paterson and New York. But with the economic shift of the 1980s, the factory downsized and shrunk its workforce. Manufacturing at Pompton Lakes ceased in 1994. 

Fast forward to the present day and DuPont is still a vital part of Pompton Lakes, but for a different reason. Investigators found that dangerous vapors were leaking out from ground water flowing from the factory site and into nearby homes. DuPont is taking responsibility for the damage, something unseen by other companies, and, according to their website, “will remain a partner in this community until our investigation and remediation efforts are completed.” The amount of time that will take is unknown, but at least they won’t be leaving anytime soon. 

DuPont wasted little time as they have removed 200,000 tons of contaminated soil and sediment. Since June 2008, the company has offered vapor-removal systems to residents living within the groundwater plume area. In a website update posted on March 4, 2013, DuPont reported a total of 298 mitigation systems have been installed by either DuPont or a third-party contractor through February 15. It will be a while before all the homes in the area have the vapors removed, and who knows if all of it can be removed, but it’s good to know that DuPont is stepping up and doing the right thing by cleaning up their mistakes. 

It will take a long time for Pompton Lakes to be back to normal. However, with the financial backing DuPont has provided, normalcy will return to Pompton Lakes eventually. They have collected air samples from about 390 properties as of February 1 with more being collected soon. DuPont is also reaching out to those individuals who haven’t responded to their offer for a mitigation system. This proves that DuPont is serious about the clean up and willing to make the extra effort to ensure everyone’s safety. 

 This isn’t something a big company usually does when they’re cleaning up.

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