Monday, March 10, 2014

EPA Updates DuPont Remediation; Pompton Lakes Citizen Advocacy Continues

By Colin English

On February 18, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency issued an updated newsletter about its remedial efforts for the DuPont contamination in Pompton Lakes; and the residents of Pompton continue to struggle to abate the socio-economic consequences of the Superfund site in their town. Both of these recent developments represent the continuing saga surrounding the DuPont contamination that has plagued Pompton and its citizens for decades.

The EPA newsletter details a series of improvements to the mitigatory actions being taken by the federal agency and DuPont Chemical. These include: EPA field oversight of DuPont contractors; additional testing for vapor intrusion of contaminants into the Lakeside Middle School; a bioremediation pilot study by the EPA intended to extract and treat contaminated groundwater with a bioagumentation culture; as well as flood control systems to their existing hydraulic surcharging system of the groundwater. The EPA and DuPont have conducted additional testing of the groundwater flows in Pompton but have not remediated the plumes that constitute the major contaminant sources.

The longevity of these plumes in the groundwater has caused public complaints of illnesses, environmental degradation, and other headaches for the local residents. Another way this malignant material still harms the community is through property value and taxes. The most obvious damage that environmental contaminants have is how they harm the local ecology, such as groundwater quality. Toxins can also erode any number of factors of a region, such as psychological health of the people within the communities, the property values of homeowners, and the productivity of businesses. For a local organization called Citizens for a Clean Pompton Lakes (CCPL), taxes are one of the many diffuse and varied difficulties they face due to decades of contamination and remedial food-dragging.
The founder of CCPL, Lisa Riggiola, conveyed surveys on February 6th to homeowners around the contaminant plumes in the groundwater intended to assess if property values have changed, if home values have decreased, if is it currently feasible to refinance or sell their homes, or if will they feel forced from their homes in the future due to the stigma and health hazards from living atop contaminants. Initial survey results indicated that residents are losing thousands of dollars in home value, they have been unable to refinance and sell due to the economic losses and environmental stigma, and their property taxes have not decreased to mitigate those losses.

EPA and DuPont have not fully remediated the toxic plumes and face public discord about clean up plans. The EPA newsletter, however, offers the appearance that everything is under control, that the public and full scope of the situation are being carefully considered, and that their organizational processes are sufficient. To many Pompton Lakes residents and the CCPL, a clean slate for the community and a remediated environment are still out of reach.

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