Home > Uncategorized > Dupont’s Partial Cleanup Exposed by New Data

Dupont’s Partial Cleanup Exposed by New Data

[Update: 2/6/12 – Ed Meakem just sent me the EPA Acid Brook sampling report presented on 2/1/12 to the Fake CAG. Here were my initial thoughts:

  • What is AOC 106? What contaminants are present there?
  • The air and water mercury emissions from Dupont obviously impacted the entire area.
  • The DEP Ecological screening criteria for mercury should be 1 ppm (derived by DEP science), not 2 ppm.
  • DEP proposed a surface water water quality standard for mercury in 2003 – as directed by US FWS and approved by EPA – far lower than the freshwater chronic aquatic 0.77 ppb value reported.
  • This wildlife standard was 0.00053 ppb for mercury – see this (page 7-10)
  • For all the EPA letter of support, US FWS Biological Opinion upon which the DEP proposal was based, and DEP approval documents, see this. ~~~  end update

Surprise! Surprise!

The Bergen Record reports that new EPA data show that the Dupont polluted Acid Brook – previously certified as cleaned up by Dupont and NJ DEP –  is still polluted by lead, mercury, and TCE and that those pollutants are flowing into Pompton Lake, see:

POMPTON LAKES – Tests reveal parts of the Acid Brook, which run through the former site of the DuPont explosives factory, have been recontaminated with toxic metals and chemicals, more than 15 years after the company and the federal government said the tributary was entirely cleaned.

We – and many other residents of Pompton Lakes – have been warning about this for quite some time. [ read Real CAG letter to EPA on recontamination]

[Technical note: there are a few important errors in the Record story: 1) the Acid Brook cleanup was a DEP approved plan, not EPA; 2) the story reports the wrong cleanup standard for mercury (23 ppm, residential human health based soil cleanup standard).

The correct standard is the ecologically based 1.0 ppm sediment standard DEP scientists recommended for the Acid Brook Delta. Mercury bioaccumulates, so wildlife standards are the basis for cleanup. Plus, there is little or no human exposure to sediments, so the DEP soil cleanup standard is not appropriate.]

EPA has known all about these problems for some time as well.

For example, in an April 11, 2011 letter to EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck, we warned:

Thus far, remediation and restoration of the DuPont site have been governed by the terms of a 1988 Administrative Consent Order (ACO) between DuPont and the NJ DEP and a 1992 RCRA Corrective Action permit issued by US EPA Region II.

Yet more than 20 years later, contamination at the majority of some 200 RCRA “solid waste management units” (“areas of concern” under the ACO) has not been fully delineated or contaminant sources permanently remediated.

The groundwater plume has migrated off site and direct human exposures are not under control. Vapor mitigation systems have not been installed in all impacted buildings.

Given extremely high historic levels of lead (100,000 ppm) and mercury (5,000 ppm) in soils and sediments (since partially remediated); numerous floods and associated high groundwater tables; and bioaccumulation mechanisms; we don’t need a fate/transport model to conclude that it is highly likely that contaminants have migrated far off site. The RCRA permit acknowledges these risks, in part by requiring that one factor that must be considered includes “weather conditions that may affect the current levels of contamination” (Module III. 7. c.Vii).

However, off site impacts have not been fully characterized. Fish, wildlife, and other natural resource injuries have not been fully documented and restored, and the public has not been compensated fully for lost uses of those natural resources.

Given current risk conditions and totally unacceptable cleanup delays and partial responses under the terms of the NJ DEP ACO and EPA RCRA permit, we are writing to urge EPA to take a series of steps, including enforcement action, to assure timely and protective cleanup and restoration of the site and impacted region.

Given these unresolved issues and flaws in the incomplete and partial cleanups, we requested EPA enforcement and response actions, including:

4. Create a “special fund” under CERCLA Section 122 – apply money to these, and possibly other necessary tasks:

a) EPA oversight costs;

b) EPA contractor support costs;

c) Baseline scientific studies to determine community-wide and regional off site impacts and natural resource injuries;

d) Epidemiological research and community health surveillance programs;

e) A revamped and unified EPA lead vapor intrusion program; and

f) Technical assistance grants.

More recently, we testified at the January 5, 2012 public hearing on the Dupont Acid Brook Delta cleanup plan and noted the problem of recontamination by sources of contamination that had not yet been cleaned up.

In written comments to EPA, we criticized the plan’s many serious flaws, including:

Site-wide corrective action must be considered BEFORE the Acid Brook Delta remediation because RCRA regulated SWMU’s and uncontrolled contamination sources – both on and off the Dupont site – continue to contribute to the Acid Brook Delta contamination, as well as cause uncontrolled direct contact with human and ecological receptors.

3. Based on #1 and #2 above, we believe that EPA is both procedurally and substantively violating the RCRA/HSWA Corrective Action provisions and applicable EPA regulations.

Because on-site SWMUs and contaminant sources continue to release hazardous constituents both on and off site which contribute to the Acid Brook Delta, we believe that EPA’s approach is scientifically flawed and improperly sequenced and segmented.”

The media ignored all that.

Worse, now that our concerns have been vindicated by EPA’s own data, the media report the story as if it originated in the oversight of the Fake CAG.

The Liz Kachur quotes were sickening, as Kachur has been denying problems and defending Dupont and DEP for many months. The Kachur quotes make it sound like the Fake CAG is the aggressive watchdog, which is the opposite of the truth.

My gut tells me that all this is no accident –

I sense that EPA is playing the same kind of political games as local officials and the Fake CAG have played for awhile.

For example, we note that these data were released to the Fake CAG. That makes the Fake CAG seem like the legitimate local forum.

That is relevant, because EPA very recently asked for a meeting with the Real CAG to pressure them to moderate and unify with the Fake CAG.

Perhaps EPA knew that this land mine was about to explode?

More to follow on all that, soon.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. Ed Meakem
    February 4th, 2012 at 11:23 | #1

    Well Well well we have said it all along …….Great work.. Thanks Bill

  2. Ed Meakem
    February 4th, 2012 at 13:30 | #2

    Round 3 Bill

    The second case involves the recent discovery that a Dupont toxic waste site is causing chemical vapors to seep into nearby homes. See: Pompton Lakes council wants independent test for toxic vapors http://www.northjersey.com/environment/environmentnews/Pompton_Lakes_council_wants_independent_test_for_toxic_vapors.html

    Resident are rightly outraged, and a local Councilman, a Mr. Ed Meakam, just nailed it with this observation:

    Bill WolfeDupont Chambersworks – this is NOT the Pompton facility.
    “Residents have voiced mistrust of the company, noting that this is a second round of contamination. DuPont is involved in an ongoing $130 million effort to clean the area of mercury, lead and solvents. Now the concern is that chemicals tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), used to degrease machinery, have risen in vapors from the ground soil into homes…..

    “We as a full council have no work plan to review,” said Councilman Ed Meakem. “There is no dialogue whatsoever on the work plan, and that concerns me.”

    Another concern, he said, is that the “borough has a history of relying on the information provided by DuPont.” DEP, he said, is taking findings from the company, too.

    “When you have the fox watching the henhouse, which this is, it’s hard to accept,” Meakem said.

    Mr. Meakem is absolutely correct in identifying multiple serious flaws in DEP’s toxic site cleanup program – he would be outraged to learn that instead of fixing these problems and limiting the control of powerful polluters like Dupont, that DEP has proposed legislation (S1897 (Simth D/Middlesex) to PRIVATIZE the program and INCREASE the control of the Dupont’s of the world

  3. Patrick Giles
    February 4th, 2012 at 14:59 | #3

    Let the LIGHT SHINE on ALL that have let special interest taint their moral compass ! This does not come as a big surprise to me but the data is VERY ALARMING , I mean levels like that are so far from safe that it leaves little to no choice but Superfund allocation. Simultaneously as Proud Pompton resident I am so afraid for all citizens in my town , contamination on this level can lead to serious health issues. Many , many thank to all who keep a vigilant watch on these matters.

  4. Ed Meakem
    February 4th, 2012 at 17:40 | #4

    For formation of an Environmental Community Advisory Group (CAG) for the DuPont Pompton Lakes Works Site.
    July 23, 2010. Happened Because of people that included Bill,Lisa,Ed,Bob
    Where were they in 07 / 08 / 09 /.

    They were saying nothing !!!!!! WE Knew where we stood!!!!

  5. February 4th, 2012 at 18:02 | #5

    @Ed Meakem

    You are absolutely right Ed – there have been a small group of residents who have been right on every issue right from the start. Those people were critical of uupont, DEP, EPA and local officials. They have been proven correct time and time again.

    Yet, they are the ones that are marginalized by local officials, EPA, DEP and the media.

    There have been another group of what are referred to as “puppets” who have been passive, support Dupont, DEP and EPA and local political hacks. THese same people have been WRONG on every issue. Yet these people are running the EPA supported “Fake CAG” and now the press is given the quotes as if they had any credibility at all.

    Fuck that shit, in plain english.

  6. February 4th, 2012 at 18:17 | #6

    @Ed Meakem

    Ed – two more things –

    1) I first got involved with the Dupont site at your request when you were a Councilman. At that first PL Council hearing I spoke at (July 9, 2008), I was shocked to be attacked and my comments dismissed by the Mayor, while other Council members (including one whose wife worked at DEP) uncritically supported DEP and Dupont (see: “On a night like this”

    2) Despite extensive involvement on the cleanup, I was not interviewed as part of the Stakeholder process you provided a link to. That ought to tell you something.

    Critics are dismissed.

    That par for the course, but even more outrageous because I probably have more knowledge about the DEP cleanup program than anyone involved, having begun my career there with DEP in 1985 in the RCRA Corrective Action program.

  7. February 4th, 2012 at 23:09 | #7

    @Bill – Thank you for all you do to help us!!! As for the Record article today, the residents are well aware of the work they have done on their own and it was the residents that pushed for re-testing on the Acid Brook not the FAKE CAG. To think that the EPA would release this information at a FAKE CAG meeting knowing the problems and serious issues with the CAG (after meeting with us about two weeks ago) only makes me wonder what they are thinking???? As for the re-contamination of the Acid Brook, no surprise here and let’s see decades of the site itself not being cleaned up – not rocket science to say the least as they say.

  8. February 5th, 2012 at 10:49 | #8

    @Lisa Riggiola

    Thanks Lisa – you’re right.

    I can’t help but think that EPA is playing games.

    Surely they knew about this data when we met.

    Surely they knew the “Fake CAG” would not be critical in the press. EPA knew it would be easier to present this data to the Fake CAG and that it would be handled there very differently than amongst the people of the real CAG.

    And just as surely they knew we would be pissed as hell about it and say “I told you so”.

    I don’t think this is what folks meant when we wrote EPA and asked for EPA to take action to build trust.

  9. February 5th, 2012 at 10:55 | #9

    @Lisa Riggiola

    Lisa – and please tell residents and media that the 23 ppm standard for mercury is the WRONG standard to use. That standard is for soil and is based on ingestion and direct contact.

    People don’t eat sediments and rarely come in direct contact.

    The public health and environmental risk from mercury comes from bioaccumulation and fish consumption – that’s why fish and wildlife impacts are the basis of sediment standards.

    DEP does not have sediment standards in regulations, but DEP calculated one for the Acid Brook Cleanup – it is 1 ppm far lower than the 23 ppm human health soil standard.

    I can not understand how they got this wrong, AFTER all the work on the Acid Brook delta.

  1. No trackbacks yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.