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Living in the Toxic “Threat Zone”

“Our well water was really excellent,” Frances Penza said. “But we don’t drink it anymore.” Press of Atlantic City  2/23/12


Toxic "Threat Zones" Have Been Mapped by DEP at Thousands of Sites

The Press of Atlantic City ran a story today with excellent reporting on the recent PEER disclosure that identified  27 NJ sites that qualify for Superfund based on risk, but were left off the Superfund list (see: Group finds site of former Hammonton dry cleaner overlooked for Superfund designation

This kind of media spotlight and warning to people in harm’s way is exactly why we sued EPA to force public disclosure of the Superfund documents.

The Press story tells an all too typical tale in NJ, where residential wells in thousands of homes have been polluted by toxic and cancer causing chemicals. Scores of municipal well fields across NJ have been poisoned and closed as well.

Often, the people drinking that water are the last to know about it.

And in addition to the health risks, they also pay the economic costs as well – either directly, or indirectly through water rates, local property taxes, and lost equity in the resale value of their home.

Polluters rarely pay – and DEP’s anemic “cost recovery” program collects about 5 cents on the dollar from polluters to reimburse taxpayer monies spent cleanup up pollution. This is a scandal waiting to be uncovered.

And now the press is slowly learning and beginning to educate the public that those all too familiar drinking water well problems also include seepage of toxic vapors into their homes.

That process is called “vapor intrusion”. So far, this statewide problem at hundreds of sites has been written about in only a handful  of sites. The Dupont Pompton lakes site is the poster child for vapor intrusion, where 450 homes have been poisoned.

The press has to warn the public, because the polluters and government agencies who know of the statewide scope of the problem are suppressing the information.

DEP is sitting on a keg of dynamite up in Trenton – see the above map. There are thousands of groundwater pollution cases that are mapped like that.

Yet DEP is telling no one about it.

Who will be the intrepid award winning journalist to write this story about living in the toxic “Threat Zone”?

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