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
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.
[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.