Tuesday, April 23, 2013

DuPont, Pompton Lakes Clean Up Update

By Katie Attinello

For over a century, DuPont, a company currently involved with industries ranging from agriculture to health care, manufactured explosives in their Pompton Lakes, NJ location. Since closing the site in 1994, DuPont has actively worked to remediate both ground and water contamination caused by past manufacturing and disposal practices. Though the initial extent of the damage was relatively high, the company engaged in a very public restoration, paying special attention to ensuring the safety of Pompton Lakes residents.

Despite this cooperation, there have been claims of major health concerns and property deterioration caused by DuPont’s pollution from former and current members of the community, according to a lawsuit covered by Suburban Trends in 2010.
DuPont, in their “DuPont Pompton Lakes Works site Summer 2012 Update,” notes the “[p]rimary soil and sediment contaminants are lead, mercury and copper. Primary ground water contaminants are the volatile organic compounds tetrachloroethene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE) and their degradation products.”

The report also confirms that over 200,000 tons of tainted soil and sediment have been extracted from the nearby Wanaque River and another stream, Acid Brook, that flows from the plant site. In conjunction with this aspect of the cleanup, over 150 properties have been restored and about ten acres of wetlands replanted. On-site, thirty contaminated areas involved with DuPont’s manufacturing process have been cleared.
However, this 2012 report appears to contradict itself to some extent. The beginning of the document suggests that the Wanaque River is included in the soil and sediment clean up efforts thus far initiated, while a later section of the report suggests that cleanup in the river area has not started. It projects that “future evaluations and selection of proposed cleanup plans for this area could begin late 2013 and continue through 2015.” Though it is noted that water and sediment from the area have been compiled in a report, it still implies that only a plan will be chosen within the next two years. It is not clear if that includes immediate action or if more time will pass before heavy clean up occurs at that particular site.
Major environmental restoration accomplishments for the area are not to go unrecognized, however. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s online documentation of the project, “a ground water pump and treat system has been installed. Ground water monitoring is continuing at the site and in the interim DuPont will be installing vapor mitigation systems at residences within the ground water plume and further assess ground water plume/vapor intrusion delineation,” another problem resulting from the 102 years of pollution caused by the Pompton Lakes plant.

DuPont presently maintains an interactive website devoted to continual public disclosure of cleanup operations in New Jersey. The company’s manufacturing history at Pompton Lakes, resources, monthly project updates, and other information is all available at http://www.pomptonlakesworks.com/.

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