Home > Uncategorized > An Open Note to My Friends in Pompton Lakes

An Open Note to My Friends in Pompton Lakes

First off, my apologies for missing the June 20 “real community advisory group” meeting. Breaking events and I got stuck in Trenton and had to write about this and this and this and this.

In the last 24 hours, friends in Pompton Lakes have sent me three documents. Our thanks to Edison Wetlands Association for filing the OPRA records request and doing the DEP file review to produce some of these important documents.

Each one, individually, would be a cause for concern.

But all three at once - especially given the high profile self described commitments by US EPA and by NJ DEP to the Pompton Lakes community – make my head explode and therefore demand a public accountability and shaming. Thus this brief note.

First, is the EPA so called “unannounced” inspection of the Dupont site that Dave Kluesner of EPA distributed via email on July  6.

That document, on EPA letterhead, dated June 8, 2011, described a May 5, 2011 “RCRA Site Visit and Assessment”  by the EPA RCRA enforcement and compliance office.

This is a sham effort by EPA to create the false appearance of some on scene presence at the Dupont site and enforcement oversight.

But it is just manipulative bullshit, my friends.

  • Why is EPA relying on the verbal representations of Dupont officials regarding compliance and environmental conditions at the site?
  • Why is EPA not conducting field sampling to verify claims and determine compliance?
  • Why are EPA RCRA field enforcement staff just getting “familiar” (that is EPA’s word to describe the purpose of the visit) with the Dupont site, after a RCRA permit was issued by EPA almost 20 years ago, back in 1992? Could this possibly be their first inspection there?
  • Why was the EPA site inspection not based on a punch list that tracks back to enforceable specific RCRA facility permit requirements and the RCRA regulations? This is how all other site inspection and compliance and enforcement oversight actions I am aware of are conducted.

Second is the EPA’s 1982 Superfund Hazard Ranking Score (HRS) for the Dupont site. That 1982 EPA document was conveyed by US EPA Region 2 to NJ DEP via a March 8, 2009 letter.

That’s a very relevant document, given the longstanding debate about listing the site on Superfund or continuing to manage it under joint NJ DEP and EPA RCRA Corrective Action Program oversight.

The HRS scoring is a pre-requisite to Superfund listing. Scores are based on risk to human health and the environment. Scores above 28.5 qualify for Superfund. The Dupont site scored 3 times higher than that, even without risks from vapor intrusion into homes considered.

Again, this illustrates total bullshit.

Why are we just finding out about this document now? Why did EWA have to file an OPRA records request and do a file review to find it and force its disclosure?

The 1982 HRS document was sent from EPA to NJ DEP back in March 2009.

  • Why did both EPA and DEP not subsequently release it to the public during the course of the intensive and controversial RCRA v. CERCLA debate?
  • Why did both agencies let the public mistakenly believe that no HRS was done? I erroneously wrote that here at Wolfenotes as well.

Both NJ DEP and US EPA were asked point blank about this HRS issue from day 1. I can only assume either:

  • gross incompetence
  • bad faith and cover up
  • combination of both

Someone needs to ask NJ DEP Commissioner Martin and US EPA RA Enck those questions

Third, is a document  I just got and was asked to review, titled “Acid Brook Delta – Revised Corrective Measures Implementation Workplan” (December 2010).

But before I even look at it, I must note that the regulatory RCRA Corrective Action cleanup decisions were made by Dupont and approved by EPA and DEP way back in October 2009 (see: RASR/CMS at page 2). 

[Update: There seems to be some manufactured confusion about how the public is limited due to prior DEP and EPA regulatory approvals of Dupont’s cleanup plans. So let me lay it out more clearly. Dupont unilaterally selected the cleanup objectives, alternatives, and selected cleanup approach. Then EPA and DEP approvals were issued for Dupont’s cleanup plan without any public notice or public comment. Dupont is now just telling us how they are going to implement EPA and DEP approved plans. This is a sham. Public comments can only tinker around the margins, but the public can have no impact on cleanup alternatives or the basic scope and technical approach to the cleanup. In contrast, under Superfund, Dupont is not in the driver’s seat. The public is provided an opportunity to comment on cleanup alternatives, cleanup goals and technical approaches before EPA (not Dupont) selects the cleanup option. That’s why Dupont opposes Superfund – EPA can select a costly cleanup option preferred by the community (one example: the geographic scope and impacts of off site contaminant migration. Dupont has limited that to portions of ABD and lakefront uplands). But Dupont still remains in control. Proving this, here is text from page 2 (see also response to comment from Ms Kachur):

A Remedial Action Selection Report/Corrrective Measures Study (RASR/CMS) was prepared [by Dupont] to identify the remedial options for the Acid Broook Delata Area (ABD). The RASR/CMS included Remedial Action Objectives [defined and selected by Dupont] to achieve protection of human health and the environment and an evaluation [conducted by Dupont] (sic) potential remedial measures, with removal selected [by Dupont] as the preferred remedial approach. In October 2009, the NJ DEP and US EPA  approved the RASR/CMS. Therefore, this document has been developed [by Dupont] to outline the remedial approach to be used [by Dupont] to implement removal of sediment and soil from the ABD and surrounding uplands [delineated by Dupont] to achieve the Remedial Action Outcomes [defined and selected by Dupont].   

Get what’s going on yet? – end update]

So what can be done now?  It’s far too late to change the scope of the cleanup. Best case is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

This too looks like manipulative window dressing.

Given all the political rhetoric and EPA commitments about enhancing community involvement in historically back room cleanup decisions made by Dupont and rubber stamped by the NJ DEP, this is especially disgusting.

Over and out.

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  1. July 8th, 2011 at 21:28 | #1

    Thank you for note. If Edison Wetlands did not find this document we MAY HAVE NEVER KNOWN about our hazard ranking score in 1982? The document is clearly marked confidential – not for public release. So my question remains… how could anyone make the disgusting choice not to let the public know their ranking which is well above the 28.5 even THEN and does not two additional environmental issues of mercury and vapor intrusion?? HOW AND WHY AND WHAT SHOULD THEY DO TO HELP US IMMEDIATELY? HOW COULD THEY KEEP THIS FROM US AND SLEEP AT NIGHT? HOW CAN WE NOW BE IN THIS MESS STILL IN 2011 AND “STILL WAITING” FOR THIS SITE TO BE DESIGNATED A SUPERFUND SITE? We need answers and help now!

  2. Bill Wolfe
    July 8th, 2011 at 21:35 | #2

    @Lisa Riggiola
    Thanks Lisa – I can’t help but think I’ve been flat out lied to to my face.

  3. July 8th, 2011 at 22:49 | #3

    It seems somebody may have a nose that is getting bigger :)

  4. July 8th, 2011 at 23:54 | #4

    Few if any sites are being added to SuperFund these days because the Fund is broke. So the only way to get a site cleaned up is to use other means. That is the general belief at the state and federal levels. There is no money left.

  5. July 9th, 2011 at 00:40 | #5

    Rhoda – there is a responsible party which is DuPont so that does not apply in this case…sorry but only applies in cases where there is not a responsible party.

  6. Bill Wolfe
    July 9th, 2011 at 06:17 | #6

    @Rhoda Dendron
    Rhoda – Lisa is correct aboyut RP funding.

    Plus EPA has otehr Superfund enforcement powers to compel Dupont to clean up and fund various remedial programs, including natural resource damage restoration.

  7. Dana Patterson
    July 9th, 2011 at 08:48 | #7

    Thank you for this great summary and excellent points. Hope you can make the next meeting on July 25 at 7pm at the elks! If it wasn’t for your help, we would be lost :)

  8. July 9th, 2011 at 15:29 | #8

    The purpose of superfund is to go after multiple recalcitrant parties and/or when there is no viable responsible party. That is not the case at Pompton Lakes. There is a wealthy RP. Therefore, no need for Superfund to spend federal resources. I’m just explaining why there is no interest on the part of the feds to use SuperFund. There are more serious problems with no RP out there for Superfund resources.

  9. EKachur
    July 9th, 2011 at 22:59 | #9

    Mr. Wolfe, I wanted to point something out regarding your comment of why the revised version of a document you liken to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I would say clarification and adjustments to address concerns by the agencies would not be a fair analogy to the Titanic reference. Copying from page 3 of the document, it clearly states why the revision. For what it is worth, permits have not been changed yet, public input on the acid brook delta has not occurred yet and local permits are still needed before work begins.

    >>This document supercedes the June 2010 CMI WP submittal as it has been updated based on
    the 2010 investigation activities, responses to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) comments, and input received from potential remediation contractors and regulatory agencies.
    DuPont is submitting this document at the request of the regulatory agencies, to assist in the planning, execution, and communication of remediation in the ABD Area. This document provides stakeholders with available information related to the equipment, processes, and methods anticipated to be used as part of remediation. Details regarding implementation of the remedial action will be further developed in coordination with the selected Remediation Contractor during future design activities. DuPont intends to identify the selected Remediation Contractor prior to commencement of detailed design activities and enter into a collaborative process to develop the final design.<<

  10. Bill Wolfe
    July 10th, 2011 at 11:46 | #10

    @Rhoda Dendron
    Sorry Rhoda – you are just flat out wrong on that – yes, you correctly note one of Superfund’s purposes (orphan sites, multiple PRP sites), but there are single RP Superfund sites that are 100% RP funded.

    And as I said previously, there are Superfund authorities (enforcement) that do NOT require NPL listing. EPA’as RCRA Enforcement strategy even recommends that.

    Please read my letter to EPA RA Enck to understand all that.

  11. Bill Wolfe
    July 10th, 2011 at 11:52 | #11

    @EKachur
    Ms Kachur – I note that you doo NOT refute what I stated,

    “regulatory RCRA Corrective Action cleanup decisions were made by Dupont and approved by EPA and DEP way back in October 2009 (see: RASR/CMS at page 2).”

    The basic cleanup documetns have been approvedf by both EPA adn NJ DEP – adn those approvals were issued without ANY public notice or opportunity for comment.

    Any public comment now is limited to implementation issues, not basic cleanup decisions.

    And any public comments now are NOT binding and can NOT be enforced adn are NOT part of any regulatory proceeding..

    YOu know that, so please stop misleading the community.

  12. July 11th, 2011 at 02:33 | #12

    The main point is that EPA has far worse sites and they are not about to expend resources they do not have (it would still require that they go after DuPont to pay for their mgmt of the case when there is no guarantee that they would get the money back). The federal gov’t is out of money. Watch the news!

  13. Bill Wolfe
    July 11th, 2011 at 07:51 | #13

    @Rhoda Dendron
    Far worse sites? Have you seen the partial HRS (befor vapor)? Have you read the NJ DHSS Health Consultation?

    EPA right now is expending signficant staff resources at Dupont site – thousands of new man hours on the vapor issue alone – but they have yet to issue and enforcement or cost recovery actions. That – and lots of additional money – is readily recoverable if EPA would only take action!

    And the federal government has plenty o money – they are spending $2 billion a week in Afghanistant alone.

  14. Bill Wolfe
    July 11th, 2011 at 08:30 | #14

    @EKachur
    Ms Kachur – the excerpt you provide supports my point!

    Note the following as I break down and annotate the excerpt:

    “DuPont is submitting this document at the request of the regulatory agencies, to assist in the planning, execution, and communication of remediation in the ABD Area.”

    [This means that the document is not required by regulation, but submitted voluntarily, and thus is NOT enforceable. Note one of the reasons is ONE WAY communication – merely to tell the public what Dupont, EPA, and DEP already have done behind their backs. Note what it excluded: any role for the community.]

    “This document provides stakeholders with available information related to the equipment, processes, and methods anticipated to be used as part of remediation.

    [Note the emphasis on one way information and note that no discusioon of information to be provied for public review on acutal chemical pollution, cleanup objectives, of cleanup alternatives. EPA and DEP already approved all that.]

    “Details regarding implementation of the remedial action will be further developed in coordination with the selected Remediation Contractor during future design activities.

    [Mere details and limited in scope to implementation – that’s all that are left – adn Dupont and their contractors will be firmly in charge of those “details”.]

    “DuPont intends to identify the selected Remediation Contractor prior to commencement of detailed design activities and enter into a collaborative process to develop the final design.]

    [Dupont, not EPA, will select celanuip contractors that are paid by, subservient to, and report to Dupont, not EPA or the community. Not clear who Dupont will collaborate with on final design. But design phase is the END of the rpocess adn is very limited. Suppose you don’t like what Dupont is designing? Suppose you don’t support the scope or objectives of Dupiont’s design? Tough luck you are SOOL.]

  15. July 11th, 2011 at 16:58 | #15

    Rhoda – did you know that the cancer mortality rate in Pompton Lakes based on new information from the NJDHSS is 33% higher than NJ. Did you know that the state of NJ rate is higher than the whole nation? The residents of this community have suffered long enough and it is time for them to be considered a Number 1 priority and clean their community to the highest residential standards possible!

  16. July 12th, 2011 at 00:19 | #16

    Yes, I know about the cancer rates in NJ. There are a lot of factors that go into determining that and I’ve always thought there is really no way to compare one place to another and take into consideration the smoking habits, age, heredity factors (the biggest factor in cancer), etc. Yes, I know that carcinogens cause cancer. But I think that if EPA hasn’t put it on the Superfund list yet, it isn’t going to happen anytime soon and your energy would be better spent other ways than waiting for EPA to make it a superfund site.

  17. July 12th, 2011 at 00:45 | #17

    Rhoda – I was specifically speaking of the 33% high cancer rate in Pompton Lakes and not about the cancer rate in NJ. I think you are well aware of that but best to set the record straight for others reading these comments. Thanks for being concerned about how I spend my time but my suggestion is I am fine and it my be best maybe for you worry about how you spend your own time.

  18. July 12th, 2011 at 11:25 | #18

    (correction – sorry multi-tasking on various environmental issues)…Rhoda – I was specifically speaking of the 33% high cancer rate in Pompton Lakes and not about the cancer rate in NJ. I think you are well aware of that but best to set the record straight for others reading these comments. Thanks for being concerned about how I spend my time but my suggestion is I am fine and it may be best for you worry about how you spend your own time.

  19. Dana Patterson
    July 12th, 2011 at 11:36 | #19

    Rhoda –

    @Rhoda Dendron
    EPA Region 2 staff stated at a national vapor intrusion hearing that the Pompton Lakes DuPont Works site is the LARGEST vapor intrusion site in all of Region 2. How can you say that there are worse off sites?

    Bill is right- There are many sites where there is only one RP performing the site cleanup – American Cyanamid Superfund Site in Bridgewater NJ – cleanup funded completely by multi-million dollar Pfizer Pharmaceutical is an excellent example.

    Please do your homework before making any assumptions.

  20. July 12th, 2011 at 14:41 | #20

    Interesting name Rhoda Dendron – nice plant.

  1. December 6th, 2011 at 09:32 | #1
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