Home > Uncategorized > Dupont and EPA Abruptly Cancel Appearance at Ramapo College Event

Dupont and EPA Abruptly Cancel Appearance at Ramapo College Event

Back out of commitments to participate to avoid critical public debate

[Update: As proof of the EPA lie about why they backed out of this panel discussion, note that EPA spoke in detail about the EAB appeal to a “friendly” audience on April 3, 2013 – see this.]

When I got the invitation to participate in a Ramapo College panel discussion on the Dupont Pompton Lakes toxic nightmare, of course I immediately agreed.

When I was told that my fellow panel members would be Dupont, US EPA, and the Passaic River Coalition (PRC), I knew that panel discussion would never happen –  even though Ramapo told me that all had confirmed their participation.

No way would Dupont and EPA agree to publicly face informed and highly critical scrutiny, like this:

So, despite my reservations, on Friday (April 26), I trucked up to speak at Ramapo College’s 18th annual Watershed Conference:

This year’s conference will present updates on watershed events, including: the Ford paint sludge remediation in Torne Valley in Ramapo, NY;  news from the Ramapo River headwaters in Orange County, NY; recent studies on Eastern timber rattlesnakes (a threatened species in New York and New Jersey); Cropsey’s Castle, Aladdin: the artist’s summer home near Warwick, NY – based on new research by Cropsey expert, Dr. Kenneth Maddox, we will get a virtual tour of  Cropsey’s design for this legendary mansion, destroyed by fire in 1909 (while he lived at Aladdin, Cropsey frequently traveled to paint in the Ramapo Valley) ; the ongoing pollution from the Mulch Pile Site and the problematic DeMarino Soil Site in Tuxedo, NY; New Jersey Highlands issues; environmental impact assessment of natural gas pipeline expansions in the NJ Highlands Region; DuPont pollution and remediation in Pompton Lakes, NJ.

At last year’s conference, there also was a presentation on the Dupont site:

3:30 – E. Durling Merrill, Environmental Officer Pompton Lakes: 1) The DuPont Acid Brook Cleanup  

I wonder if Mr. Merrill disclosed the fact that his salary was paid by Dupont for many years?

This year, in the wake of the controversial EPA issuance of the long awaited final RCRA permit to require Dupont to cleanup a portion of Pompton Lake, the Ramapo agenda included a 1 hour panel discussion of the cleanup – and with a broader set of panelists:

3:00 pm – Acid Brook – DuPont Pollution and Remediation in Pompton Lake: Mike Reinhart, Environmental Specialist, Passaic River Coalition; Jan Barry, Environmental Journalist, Ramapo College Adjunct Professor; Bill Wolfe, N.J. PEER; Ed Merrill, Pompton Lakes Environmental Officer; and a DuPont Representative. 

Both Dupont US EPA Region 2 had confirmed their participation. So did the Passaic River Coalition.

But, curiously, just as I expected, they all backed out.

Why were those highly unusual move taken by those 3 groups?

We were told that the lame excuse EPA gave was that it was due to pending litigation. We don’t know what the excuses from Dupont and PRC were. But  We assume it was when they saw this:

conference announcement notes PEER, Dupont, EPA and PRC panel

So, the panel was reduced to myself and Jan Barry, former Record reporter and now an adjunct Ramapo professor.

Jan did a nice job presenting the history of the site, the Record’s excellent coverage, and the cleanup. Jan noted the explosive public reaction to recent disclosures of the vapor intrusion problem, the cancer cluster, and the down-river migration of mercury.

With EPA, Dupont, and PRC no shows, that gave me lots – lots – more time to rip the various failures (see above posts for most of that). I had fun and held nothing back! I’ll see if I can locate a video, I think it was taped.

And, before closing, I need to call bullshit on this From Passaic River Coalition’s 2012 Annual Report:

Pompton Lake Contamination

The PRC submitted comments to EPA about a proposed dredging plan to remove mercury contamination in Pompton Lake. The PRC felt the plan was not extensive enough and would not adequately protect recreational users of the lake or downstream water supply intakes. At the PRC’s suggestion, EPA consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and subsequently modified the dredging permit to treat a larger area of the lake.

In partnership with the citizen group, Pompton Lakes Residents for Environmental Integrity (PLREI), the PRC received a Technical Assistance Grant from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to hire Rich Shoyer of Synergy Environmental, Inc. to review technical data related to the site and present it to the public. The PRC also regularly participates in EPA’s Pompton Lakes Environmental Community Advisory Group.

PRC had no historical involvement in the Dupont cleanup and was installed in Pompton Lakes at the request of the DEP Commissioner. They only parachuted into the conflict to receive promised DEP grant funding.

The purpose was to undercut the advocacy of plume residents and to prevent them and the Edison Wetlands Association from receiving DEP and EPA Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) funding and leading the local advocacy efforts.

It was a very cynical and classic divide and conquer strategy – and it worked. The Pompton Lakes community was further polarized and the involvement of PRC and another group called PLREI splintered the community and made consensus impossible.

PRC did not testify at the EPA public hearing (see the transcript). So, that sure is one hell of a curious way of “reviewing technical data related to the site and presenting it to the public”.

And I know from direct first hand conversations with the professionals involved in the decision that the PRC claim taking credit for the USFWS consultation is false and a flat out lie.

PRC may have submitted written comments to that affect – which I will try to determine – but the Dupont cleanup issues were brought to USFWS attention by myself and that drove EPA’s decision regarding when and how to consult with USFWS as required by the RCRA regulations.

[full disclosure: I receive no funding for my work in Pompton Lakes and have no involvement or expectation of receiving funding under any EPA or DEP TAG grants.]

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  1. lisa
    April 28th, 2013 at 13:19 | #1

    Pack your bags plrei and prc. The Dupont plume residents have enough stress and do not need more b.s. What a disgrace!!!

  2. April 28th, 2013 at 17:43 | #2

    Now this surprises me , DuPont is not willing to appear in front of a room consisting of impartial , well informed scientific minds coupled with an outraged public that are not on their pay-roll ?

    Let’s think on this point for a moment from DuPont’s standpoint. They have all but bought the DEP , continue to spend Million’s upon Billion’s of dollar’s on many levels both private & public to protect it’s interest & profits but also to ensure that it may continue to Pro Actively stall , stop or impede any actual progress backed by accepted current credible science that they are poisoning entire communities as daily business.

    STOP THE PRESSES !!! this actually shows just how aware they are at this time & well before regarding the toxic legacy their operations have left in their wake. Follow me on this. If DuPont had actually appeared at Ramapo College they would be without any line of defense in the form of manipulated & or “bought off” agencies on their pay role. I am starting to think that DuPont might have been panicked as to how convince the audience that they are not responsible for this human & environmental death trap. This would require explaining to Mr. Wolfe & other concerned parties that are not on pay roll just how exactly the DuPont company is NOT accepting responsibility of knowingly & willingly threatening the health & welfare of not hundreds but excess of thousands of individuals & the environment we all live in.

    This is not the DuPont way , I am sure they have checkbook in hand but this , this gathering would mean facing the truth. Now why in the world would DuPont want to deal with anyone who can’t be “bought, bullied or buried” regarding their blatant disregard for anything or anyone not under their control at this point. How cold the truth possibly hurt a company that who is so concerned about our well being that they are willing to drag their feet , kicking , clawing & fighting to clean up their mess all while buying any obstacle in their way !?

    My only thought at this time is DuPont has realized they were about to face an audience consisting of people with integrity , care & concern for the well being of both the environment as well as it’s residents & wildlife. This would be a room full of people who could easily outline exactly what is happening , why it’s happening & could provide a full length in depth timeline to the offensive & preventative mostly documented political moves this #1 polluter has put in place to defend it’s bank account all while attempting to pass a laughable plan of “cleaning” what they contend to be the only areas of concern.

    Imagine this #1 polluter facing question’s they themselves have not studied or prepared themselves for ? How could we possibly expect a company that has purposely buried so much information over the period of decades to admit & accept culpability & guilt of MAJOR crimes against both people as well their environment!?

    I ask you , could we expect them to truly face the fact that they are intentionally bending & buying their way out of any & all legitimate & truthful claims that they are indeed clearly & ABSOLUTELY responsible for the continued poisoning of entire communities !?. This would mean DuPont might slip & tell the truth !

    I encourage all to follow the timeline of DuPont & Pompton Lakes as I have. Unless you are one of said cronies for sale it should easily become clear to see that DuPont has constantly been one step ahead of anything that resembles responsibility & or truth for their continued actions & more importantly in actions of making Pompton Lakes & surrounding communities safe once more.

    Some would see this as a set back – I see it as opportunity. In order to keep a level playing field (no pun intended) I feel that anyone concerned with this matter come join the majority of concerned citizens in our campaign for truth, transparency & direct action against this apparently “untouchable #1 polluter in the world.” PLEASE listen carefully – DuPont is running out of places to hide & the more people that speak out the stronger our chances of seeing TRUE justice served & finally put people before profits. This would be a landmark event !

    Please contact your local officials & inquire as to the actions they are taking in supporting the parties looking to ensure a safe & clean environment starting now , not tomorrow but now people. I think we are close to getting them on the ropes & with your help we can get DuPont to reveal what we have known all along. Once this is done & made public only then do we have a chance to truly show the entire world just how important this issue is to all who live in this country.

    This is not just about Pompton Lakes , DuPont is employing the same strategies at numerous sites & not doing anything about it until it’s in your home is not a wise decision-look no further then Pompton Lakes & it’s current crisis as proof of that.

    Maybe a follow up call to our friend’s at FOX with the recent developments can revitalize our efforts to get the support needed to bring DuPont to justice.
    My last note to DuPont , your absence speaks volumes of your concern for your profits & is a slap in the face to my entire community to which you are STILL poisoning to this day. I promise you #1 polluter DuPont… your day soon approaches because there is NO QUIT in Pompton Lakes & we will continue to make that abundantly clear to You & the rest of the world !

  3. Valari Anne
    April 28th, 2013 at 19:37 | #3

    duPont is probably spending more money covering everything up then they would have spent if they just cleaned up their mess in the first place. Not to mention the horrible reputation they have constructed for themselves. Ironic, isn’t it?

  4. jean
    April 29th, 2013 at 18:10 | #4

    Court backs EPA veto of mountaintop mining project – The Hill’s E2-Wire
    maybe some good news…..

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