Home > Uncategorized > DEP Documents Say Dupont Science “Misleading” – Mercury Has Larger Ecological Impacts

DEP Documents Say Dupont Science “Misleading” – Mercury Has Larger Ecological Impacts

Pompton Lake - fish unsafe to eat due to toxic mercury from Dupont plant

Pompton Lake – fish unsafe to eat due to toxic mercury from Dupont plant

US Fish and Wildlife Service Review Could Expand Dupont Cleanup

Today we disclose hot internal DEP documents, including DEP’s review comments on Dupont’s ecological assessment of mercury pollution in Pompton Lakes.

fish consumption advisory - Loss of access to the fishery is a natural resource injury that Dupont must compensate the public for.

fish consumption advisory – Loss of access to the fishery is a natural resource injury that Dupont must compensate the public for.

We disclose that DEP took the highly unusual step and calculated a cleanup standard to protect fish and wildlife from mercury bioaccumulation known as a Bioaccumulation Based Sediment Quality Value for Pompton Lake (“BSQV)“.

DEP calculated a 1 mg/kg (ppm) sediment cleanup standard.

DEP likely developed its own standard to pushback against flaws in the Dupont science. However, the DEP standard was not incorporated in the subsequent Dupont cleanup plan, which raises questions about why.

But we do know that DEP didn’t want us to have this hot document  – DEP denied our OPRA request for it on the sham basis that it is “deliberative”. The DEP documents can not be deliberative because DEP approved the Dupont remedial investigation plan in 2008 and the only pending decision for which deliberation is underway is by US EPA, not NJ DEP.

DEP also found that Dupont science was “misleading” regarding mercury fish tissue concentrations and raised a red flag regarding likely downriver mercury sediment impacts.

This information is now key, because Dupont is seeking to minimize their cleanup obligations and US Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the Dupont plan.

The Dupont cleanup plan does not consider upland or downriver impacts, and is limited to dredging sediments from a small 26 acre hot spot area of the lake known as the Acid Brook Delta.

EPA must approve or reject the plan, based on US FWS and public comments.

We look forward to the review comments by the ecological professionals at the US Fish and Wildlife Service (US FWS) NJ Field Office – see this for their environmental contaminants program.

US FWS does critically important work – especially in NJ’s toxic landscapes – and something you don’t hear much about from NJ bird conservation groups or press reports.

Read all about it in news from our friends at PEER


DuPont Pompton Lake Pollution May Be Headed Downstream

DEP Scientists’ Questions Could Prompt Feds to Expand DuPont Cleanup Scope

Trenton – New Jersey state scientists have pointed to evidence that mercury from a toxic waste site at Pompton Lakes is migrating down the Ramapo and Wanaque Rivers through contaminated sediment, fish and wildlife, according to agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). These documents surface just as federal agencies are reviewing the DuPont dredging plans to determine their ecological adequacy.

Pollution from the old E.I. DuPont De Nemours & Company ammunition plant has proven to be more than a 20-year long nightmare for the 450 homes exposed to deadly vapors and other effects. Now it appears that this pollution nightmare may be spreading.

State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) scientists found much higher levels of mercury in Pompton Lake fish than found elsewhere, raising red flags about bio-availability of the mercury and downriver sediment pollution. They said the ecological assessment in the DuPont plan to dredge a 26-acre section of Acid Brook Delta, a small part of the 260-acre polluted Pompton Lake, was “misleading” particularly in characterizing data on mercury in fish tissue.  Moreover, DEP calculated a sediment cleanup standard needed to protect fish and wildlife but DuPont’s plan did not incorporate that standard.

The adjoining Ramapo and Wanaque watersheds are affected by contaminated sediment flow as are their fish and wildlife, which bio-accumulate mercury through the food chain. The current DuPont dredging plan only addresses a small portion (10%) of the Lake and does not consider downriver sediment impacts.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are now considering and must both sign off on this plan. PEER is urging Fish & Wildlife scientists to revisit the DEP standard during their review of the DuPont plan.

“These federal oversight agencies must look at these DEP findings and should conduct a de novo review of the scientific basis for the DuPont cleanup plan,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe, noting that DEP had denied him access to these internal scientific documents under the state Open Public Records Act, claiming they were “deliberative” but had previously released these same documents to a different requester. “Right now we are a critical juncture in the future of Pompton Lakes.”

The DuPont plan is supposed to be based upon a site-specific ecological standard designed to protect fish and wildlife from the bio-accumulative effects of mercury in sediments. Federal review could expand the scope of the proposed cleanup and could also find additional injuries to natural resources for which DuPont must compensate the public.

For more than a century, DuPont’s operations poured heavy metals and other toxins into Pompton Lake. The plume of pollution has spread to groundwater underlying homes and businesses, causing vapor intrusion problems.


Read the DEP comments on the DuPont cleanup

See the memo for the DEP scientists deriving cleanup standard

Look at DEP calculated ecological cleanup levels

View the DuPont cleanup plan

Examine the background on Pompton Lakes

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  1. Philip Bonner
    January 26th, 2012 at 12:37 | #1

    Thiis is the 1st report I have seen that the NJ DEP actually challenged Dupont’s own contamination control reporting and evaluates downstream damages as well.

    Too bad that the dissappearance of the new/revised DEP standard (BSQV) will not be enforced in the cuurently approved remediation plan which has reverted to Dupont’s own (self serving?) Lower standard of only 25 acres

  2. Ed Meakem
    January 26th, 2012 at 13:32 | #2

    Well Well well Is not the DEP really looking out for us Bill The emails dont lie,
    Thank you so much for your work on this issue.

  3. January 26th, 2012 at 13:46 | #3

    @Ed Meakem

    Tx Ed – your work has been instrumental.

    I’ve asked US FWS to look at DEP BSQV of 1.0 mg/kg- I don’t know if it is adequately protective but I know it was not in the Dupont plan.

  4. January 26th, 2012 at 13:47 | #4

    @Philip Bonner

    I have 3 basic questions:

    1) is DEP’s science sound?

    2) If so, was DEP science over-ruled?

    3) If so, will US FWS and EPA sign off on it?

  5. January 26th, 2012 at 14:00 | #5

    I attended the council meeting last night and after the meeting Pompton Lakes Environmental Officer Ed Merrill approached me. He took the oppotunity to explain to me that the DuPont “fish sampling” was done properly. Funny how things go sometimes. Thank you so very much Mr. Wolfe for the truth and for sharing this information with the public. We are the residents that live in this very serious toxic state and you would think we would be the first to know the truth about what is really going on here in Pompton Lakes! My hope is with the now 8,135 and counting signatures on http://www.change.org petition, entitled “Stop DuPont Chemical from Poisoning New Jersey Families” – http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-dupont-chemical-from-poisoning-new-jersey-families, we will finally be designated a Superfund site after decades of waiting! Something is so very wrong here in Pompton Lakes!

  6. January 26th, 2012 at 14:08 | #6

    @Lisa Riggiola

    Thank’s Lisa –

    DEP found Dupont’s analysis of fish data “misleading”. Check the DEP emails linked above.

    Merrill may be referring to my oral testimony at the hearing, where I may have combined 2 distinct issues about the marcoinvertibrate sampling, YOY fish and bioaccumulation. If so, he may be making a legit point.

  7. January 26th, 2012 at 14:30 | #7

    @wolfe – He was talking about the size of the fish and that some were too big to test, etc.

  8. January 26th, 2012 at 14:35 | #8

    @Lisa Riggiola

    too big to test? Sounds fishy!

    Bigger fish are older, and therefore would have more time to bioaccumulate mercury. All other things equal, they would have higher tissue concentrations.

    It’s complicated, but the data are adjusted for all that.

  9. Ed Meakem
    January 26th, 2012 at 15:21 | #9

    Environmental Officer Ed Merrill is a Dupont shill ,and would never say anything they do is wrong ,they (DUPONT) pay the town to hire him what we need a LSRP. not a person who will cover-up for all the wrongs. His best quote is the plume is like spilled milk….

  10. Ed Meakem
  11. January 26th, 2012 at 19:52 | #11

    @Bill Wolfe
    He mentioned something about that to me also after last’ night council meeting Bill but he also talked about some fish being too big for testing and mentioned “re-scaling”.

  12. Philip Bonner
    January 26th, 2012 at 20:00 | #12

    NJ DEP’s delay to release that BSQV/””misleading” report stating it was still “deliberative” in nature, is fishy, specially when Dupont is being spared from held to the more valid BSQV standard in its remediation of Pompton Lake.

    I wonder how that transpired?

  13. January 26th, 2012 at 20:06 | #13

    @Philip Bonner
    I wonder too…I feel it the NJDEP’s obligiation to the public to let us know. Your thoughts?

  14. Ed Meakem
    January 26th, 2012 at 20:43 | #14

    In some emails they look for ways to change results or hide from public as Bill pointed out earlier. Bill should write a story called Bye Bye Barry

  15. Philip Bonner
    January 26th, 2012 at 21:14 | #15

    It appears that Dupont, the EPA and NJ DEP had their own little party and conveniently didn’t invite the public….all of those pesky questions and extra work…not to mention expense…

  16. Ed Meakem
  1. February 21st, 2012 at 11:42 | #1
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