Thursday, March 13, 2014

DuPont-Pompton Lakes Update

By Tiffany Liang

DuPont is a chemical company that has operated in the United States for a long time. Originally an explosives manufacturer, the company is also partially responsible for the invention of clorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a compound used in aerosols and refrigerants. Nowadays, DuPont has widely expanded its manufacturing base to include electronics and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the latter of which are used in food crops. It continues to operate plants in and outside the United States.

From 1902 to 1994, DuPont operated an explosives plant in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey—the property also extended into neighboring Wanaque. After the plant closed, DuPont began efforts to clean up the site, which had been heavily contaminated. The site is under the jurisdiction of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, though a citizen’s group is pushing for a Superfund site designation. The affected area contains volatile organic compounds in the groundwater, which is affecting a number of homes through vapor intrusion, as well as lead and mercury in the soils and sediments.

Ten metals were deposited in Acid Brook and Pompton Lake through the plant’s operation. DuPont has installed a pump and treat plant for the ground water and remediated numerous sites in a residential neighborhood. In 2011, however, the company said it would only take responsibility for its mercury deposits, though it would remove other contaminates “co-located” with mercury. The company promised to remove thousands of tons of contaminated soil and to dredge Pompton Lake accordingly.

Until the plant site and lake sediment have been remediated to acceptable levels, residents of Pompton Lakes, Wanaque, and possibly Riverdale and Pompton Plains, which are downstream, will continue to live with lead, copper and mercury potentially in the riverbank soils and drinking water.

The next public information session, hosted by the EPA, will be held on March 19 at 3-5 pm and 7-9 pm at Carnevale Center, 10 Lenox Ave. in Pompton Lakes. Another meeting with EPA representatives will be held on April 1 at 1 pm at the Elks Lodge on 15 Perrin Ave., also in Pompton Lakes.

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