Tuesday, April 23, 2013

No Uranium Found at DuPont Site; Pompton Lakes Cleanup Continues

By Anthony Smith

The issues have piled up for DuPont over the years regarding their involvement in the contamination of land and water in Pompton Lakes. But recently, a small victory was handed to them courtesy of the federal government.

The feds deemed that DuPont never used uranium at the former Pompton Lakes facility.

"Any radioactivity that would be at the site is naturally occurring radioactivity, which would normally be found in the Earth’s crust or in building materials," Paul Giardina told the Bergen Record. Giardina is the director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Indoor Air and Radiation for Region Two.

While it may never be known what DuPont did or did not actually use in the products while the plant was operational, the findings of the EPA have put Pompton Lakes Mayor Katie Cole at ease.

"I’m glad that one of the concerns that the residents had has been addressed and it is now off the table," Cole said to the Bergen Record.

Cole’s statement is telling. The findings can ease one of the concerns of the residents.

What haven’t been tested are the underground tunnels that DuPont used to regularly test explosive material. The Bergen Record spoke with local environmental activist Lisa Riggiola, who doesn’t think the EPA conducted thorough tests.

Despite skepticism from the community, DuPont maintains that there is no history of using uranium at the Pompton lakes site. DuPont manufactured expolsives from materials containing lead and mercury at the site until 1994.

In December, DuPont agreed to extend their mercury cleanup in Pompton Lakes.

““The removal of mercury-contaminated sediment from Pompton Lake is a major step toward the recovery of the lake and the protection of people’s health,” EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck said in a statement to the Bergen Record.

While the cleanup is extensive, it still falls short of the requests of local residents.

“It’s a step in a positive direction, but it doesn’t solve the problem,” said Riggiola. “It doesn’t address the full contamination of the lake. Period.”

Bordering Wayne township has seen its share of problems as well. Wayne sits downstream from Pompton Lakes, causing flood water to run into areas of Wayne.

““We won’t be satisfied until the areas of all the hotspots are addressed and removed,” she told the Bergen Record.

In the end, the finding of no uranium is a positive for the community. But as the cleanup continues, it remains to be seen just what else may be found.

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